BLM AFS mopping up trio of fires; monitoring many others

BLM Alaska Fire Service firefighters are mopping up a trio of fires Wednesday including one that had threatened Huslia Tuesday evening. Lightning continues to be the main component of new fire starts for the past three days. There were 28 new fire starts across Alaska Tuesday to bring the total up to 57 active fires by the end of day. This may cause smoke to drift into communities, especially across the midsection of the state.

A combination of air and ground efforts were instrumental in catching the Long Lake Fire (#150) at 10 acres Tuesday night. The eight smokejumpers were mopping it up on Wednesday. A Galena Zone Fire Specialist witnessed the lightning strike that ignited the fire that burned three miles east of Huslia. Smokejumpers, which had just been pulled from the Deniktaw Ridge Fire (#117) burning between Huslia and Hughes, were quickly flown from Galena to jump the Long Lake Fire. The eight smokejumpers remaining on the Deniktaw Ridge Fire and the BLM AFS Type 2 training crew, the North Star Fire Crew, are mopping up and extinguishing hot spots 200 feet inside the perimeter of this 320-acre fire.

The eight smokejumpers on the Tusikpak Lake Fire (#116) since Monday have started mopping up the edge after it has burned an estimated 7,985 acres of tundra grass east of Point Hope. Fire officials were able to use satellite sensing to get a better estimate of the size of the fire Tuesday. Because of its size, smokejumpers will use a helicopter to fly over the fire to get a better look at fire activity. They burned a buffer to protect a nearby Native allotment and have been successful in beating down flames as it burned through dry grass.

Meanwhile, a combination of water dumps and good overnight humidity recovery have help calm the Crazy Mountain Fire (#130) burning near the 142 milepost of the Steese Highway about 14 past Circle. Eight smokejumpers have been working on the fire but expect to get some help from the UAF Nanook Fire Crew starting Wednesday afternoon. This 1.5-acre fire is within a quarter mile of a Native allotment and about two miles from the nearest home.

The Fairhaven Creek Fire (#136); Wasp Creek Fire (#134); and Buckland River Fire (#168) are burning south of Buckland and may be creating smoke visible in Nome Wednesday morning. Fire personnel flew over the largest, the 875-acre Fairhaven Creek Fire, Tuesday and reported it was moderately moving toward natural barriers to the west and north. It is expected to back into the hills to the south and hit brush and snow. Fire officials will keep an eye on the lightning-caused fire that is burning through tundra in a modified management option area. The 150-acre Wasp Creek Fire and the one-acre Buckland River Fire are also being monitored.

For more information, contact BLM AFS Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at eipsen@blm.gov or (907)356-5510 or (907)388-2159.

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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