Weather change lessens wildland fire activity

Cooler, wetter weather has moved into the Interior of Alaska moderating behavior on wildland fires northeast of Fort Yukon. Upper Yukon Zone fire managers are taking advantage of the weather to pull crews from the line back into town for days off and to refurbish their equipment; so that they are ready for redeployment when fire activity increases. Managers are also moving resources from one fire to another as the movement of fires changes priorities for protecting Native allotments and permitted cabins.

There are 27 active fires in the Upper Yukon fire management zone that covers a section of the state east of the Dalton Highway to the Canadian border and from the Arctic Ocean south to Livengood and Chicken. Most of these fires are burning in remote areas designated for limited protection and are not threatening any known sites of value. Despite this, firefighters are assigned to three fires to protect cabins and Native allotments while allowing the remainder of the fire to continue to function in its natural ecological role. Smoky conditions can still be possible as these fires will continue to burn until significant wetting rains are received on the fires.

Here’s a breakdown of staffed fires in the Upper Yukon Zone:

Helmet Fire (#312) – 22,989 acres. Start date 7/6/17. Four personnel. BLM Smokejumpers have completed site preparations and sprinkler setups for the permitted cabin on the west side of the Sheenjek River, south of the confluence with the Koness River. Firefighters will demobilize from the fire today leaving the “turnkey” set up ready to be staffed if the fire continues its progression. Firefighters reported the fire had received little precipitation. Aerial reconnaissance Saturday reported the fire’s northern edge was 3.8-miles south of the cabin and still remains on the east side of the Sheenjek.

Boulder Creek (#292) – 23,384 acres. Start date 7/2/17. 44 personnel. Firefighters are organized into two different groups, both tasked with providing protection to Native allotments and permitted cabins in the area of Vundik Lake and the Sheenjek River. Firefighters observed no significant fire activity and will continue hold their positions and monitor the fires burning nearby. The North Star Type 2 Crew and six smokejumpers were demobilized from the fire Saturday. The fire is 1.3-miles north of the Vundik Lake cabin, 2.5 miles from the allotment on the lake, and 4-miles from the allotment on the Sheenjek River. This fire and the Helmet Fire are within 3 miles of each other on the east side of the Sheenjek River. They are burning in a limited suppression area in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Campbell River (#268) – 55,309 acres, an increase of 9,789 acres from Thursday. Burning in Alaska since 6/26/17. 35 personnel. Firefighters reported a successful firing operation on the south and east sides of the Salmon Trout allotment on Saturday removing fuels from the allotment line to the fire’s edge. Personnel also reported that heavy rain fell overnight from 10 pm to 4 am. Today, crews will grid the area of the allotment to find and suppress any areas of heat located there. They will also mop-up the burned area around the allotment to insure there will be no threat as the fire continues its natural progression. The fire’s perimeter is still over 4-miles from the cabin at the confluence of the Campbell and Porcupine rivers. The cabin protection setup is complete for this cabin. The fire is burning in a limited protection area along the Porcupine River within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It started in the Yukon Territory and crossed into Alaska on June 26. The total fire size is estimated to be more than 95,000 acres.

Contact Public Information Officer Sam Harrel at (907) 322-7204 or pio.samharrel@gmail.com for more information.

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