Smokejumpers are enroute to a tundra grass fire that has burned an estimated 2,000 acres about 16 miles east of Point Hope. The load of eight smokejumpers was sent to the Tusikpak Lake Fire (#116) that is burning in a modified protection area on ANSCA-corporation land and is within 2.5 of Native allotments. Because they are traveling from the smokejumper base at BLM Alaska Fire Service facilities at Fort Wainwright, they were not due to get over the fire until late Monday night.
The fire was reported through FAA Flight Service at 9:46 a.m. Monday and was originally thought to be burning close to it’s namesake lake, which is about 2.5 miles from the end of the 7 Mile Road. However, two Galena Zone Fire Specialist flew over the area later in the day were able to get a better location and size it up at 2,000 acres It was spreading at a moderate rate about 10 miles from the end of the road that travels east of the North Slope village. Seventy percent of the fire’s perimeter was estimated to be active with most of the fire spread heading to the south. There are about seven cabins and numerous allotments to the north of the fire on the Kukpuk River. Thankfully, there are still some fingers of snow between the fire and these cabins and allotments. However, the exposed grass is dry and, coupled with a wind, is why the fire grew to 2,000 acres in one day.
More information will be available tomorrow after smokejumpers get on the ground.
For more information, contact BLM AFS Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at (907)388-2159.