Forestry works on new fire near Nenana

The Tanana River 15 Mile Fire is burning 15 miles down the Tanana River from Nenana. (Map provided by the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center)

The Tanana River 15 Mile Fire is burning 15 miles down the Tanana River from Nenana. (Map provided by the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center)

Fairbanks Area Forestry firefighters are working on a small fire burning along the Tanana River 15 miles downriver from Nenana. The new fire is one of 31 active fires in Alaska and underscores the continued potential for new fires especially as the fall weather dries out dead and decaying fuels, making them susceptible to new ignitions from human activity.

Despite the cooler temperatures, humidity levels remain low in many parts of the state making it crucial for people to be careful during their outdoor activities – especially those involving campfires. People should never leave a campfire unattended and make sure it is completely extinguished before leaving the area. The best method is to douse the fire with water, stir the embers and repeat before feeling the ash to ensure it’s completely cold.

The newest fire, named the Tanana River 15 Mile Fire (#402), was reported by a boater late Thursday morning who had spotted it burning on the riverbank. Due to the low fire activity, low probability of spread and lack of firefighting resources still available in Alaska after the end the fire season, firefighters were dispatched to deal with the fire today. The fire is burning on a Native allotment, which falls under the full management option; however, it is not threatening any structures. The two firefighters had to boat to the location of the fire where they found a 50-foot-by-50-foot area where the fire smoldered and crept through a mixture of black spruce, hardwoods and tundra. Firefighters reported seeing smoke from an estimated 20 hot spots and the only visible flames were coming from a burning tree stump. They will work throughout the day and expect to have the edge secured today. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

This MesoWest Alaska Fire and Fuels map shows the Drought Code levels for Alaska. The Drought Code represents the deep layer of compact organic matter 10-20 cm deep, which determines resistance to extinguishment. It indicates seasonal drought and smoldering fires in deep duff or large logs.

This MesoWest Alaska Fire and Fuels map shows the Drought Code levels for Alaska. The Drought Code represents the deep layer of compact organic matter 10-20 cm deep. It indicates seasonal drought and smoldering fires in deep duff or large logs.

As of Sept. 15, 353 fires have burned 652,904 acres across Alaska – far below the state’s historical average of 1-2 million. Of the 31 that are still active, 14 fires fall in the northeastern section of the state within the BLM Alaska Fire Service’s Upper Yukon Zone where fires have burned 410,345 acres this year. Upper Yukon Zone personnel flew 10 of these fires a week ago and spotted smoke on five as dry conditions linger in that part of the state. The Yukon Flats experienced 70-degree weather and humidity levels as long as the teens last week. With the exception of the Tanana River 15 Mile Fire, the active fires in Alaska are in monitor status. All active fires are not expected to experience much, if any, growth as winter approaches.

Contact BLM Alaska Fire Service Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at (907)388-2159 or eipsen@blm.gov for more information.

This Alaska Interagency Coordination Center map shows the location of the 31 active fires in Alaska as of Sept. 15, 2017.

This Alaska Interagency Coordination Center map shows the location of the 31 active fires in Alaska as of Sept. 15, 2017. Click here 9-15-17 Active Fires for a PDF version of this map.

 

About BLM Alaska Fire Service

The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (AFS) located at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, provides wildland fire suppression services for over 244 million acres of Department of the Interior and Native Corporation Lands in Alaska. In addition, AFS has other statewide responsibilities that include: interpretation of fire management policy; oversight of the BLM Alaska Aviation program; fuels management projects; and operating and maintaining advanced communication and computer systems such as the Alaska Lightning Detection System. AFS also maintains a National Incident Support Cache with a $10 million inventory. The Alaska Fire Service provides wildland fire suppression services for America’s “Last Frontier” on an interagency basis with the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources, USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Military in Alaska.

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