Firefighters remain on a handful of fires as work wraps up on others

Work is wrapping up on the Fishing Village Fire (#207) that started Thursday night near Golovin. This photo was taken when firefighters flew over the area Friday afternoon. Photo by Ryan McPherson, BLM AFS

Work is wrapping up on the Fishing Village Fire (#207) that started Thursday night near Golovin. This photo was taken when firefighters flew over the area Friday afternoon. Photo by Ryan McPherson, BLM AFS

Firefighters are wrapping up work on multiple fires as conditions are starting to moderate in many parts of the state. Of the 11 fires staffed on Saturday morning, seven are expected to see firefighters finish their work and head home over the next few days. While some spots remain dry and very receptive to burning, Mother Nature gave other areas a reprieve with rain. That may continue as temperatures are predicted to plummet when a cold front moves in from the Arctic starting Saturday night. In addition, aggressive suppression efforts knocked down fires that due to the time of the year, have burned mostly on the surface because the underlying ground hasn’t had a chance to dry out yet.

Also helping is the decreased number of strikes that only generated 11 new starts on Friday.

Map of fires in the Galena Zone for June 9, 2018.
Map of fires in the BLM AFS Galena Zone for June 9, 2018. 

 Three of the new starts, including the Fishing Village Fire (#207) near Golovin, occurred in the BLM AFS’s Galena Fire Management Zone. Residents from the Norton Sound community reported seeing smoke in the distance late Thursday night. However, due to the time of the day and no resources being available, the fire wasn’t flown until the next day. When BLM AFS Galena Zone personnel flew over the fire around noon Friday, it was approximately 12 acres, 50 percent active, and burning in tundra with numerous structures and Native land allotments to the south of the fire. The fire was burning in a modified option area. Two water-scooping Fire Boss aircraft, eight smokejumpers, and BLM AFS personnel aboard an aircraft sent to help coordinate the suppression efforts were tasked Friday with containing the fire. Work continued throughout the day and into the evening with good progress made towards containment. Smokejumpers are walking the edge today to make sure it’s out and anticipate having it contained and controlled by the end of the day.

The other two new starts were the 700-acre Rabbit River Fire (#205) burning in the Selawik National Wildlife Refuge and the 20-acre Reindeer Corral Fire (#211) burning about 30 miles south of Buckland.

The Rabbit River Fire was initially observed to be spreading to the southeast towards several cabins on the Rabbit River. The eight smokejumpers ordered to the fire were diverted to the Minchumina Fire (#213) burning near Lake Minchumina. However, two water-scooping Fire Boss aircraft worked the fire to slow its march toward the cabins and give fire managers time to free up other resources. Fire officials flew the fire on Saturday and determined that based on moderated fire behavior and natural barriers that stand between fire and cabins, the fire would be put in monitor status. That could change if the fire burns within striking distance of the cabins.

Map of fires in the BLM AFS Tanana Zone for June 9, 2018.

Map of fires in the BLM AFS Tanana Zone for June 9, 2018.

After demobilizing from the Livingston Fire south of Fairbanks on Friday, the Type 1 BLM AFS Chena Hotshots joined the 14 smokejumpers working on the Minchumina Fire burning on the southwest side of the Interior Alaska lake. A combination of retardant drops, water drops and work done by smokejumpers on the ground knocked the fire down Friday night. Today, the smokejumpers continued to work securing the line around the fire that was estimated at 35 acres. They’ll let the hotshots take over on Sunday and return to the line-up of smokejumpers available to respond to new fires in Alaska.

Also on Saturday, a squad of eight emergency firefighters (EFF) from Minto joined two smokejumpers working on the Becky Lake Fire (#212) burning near the northeast corner of Wein Lake. The fire was knocked down Friday night by the efforts from the two smokejumpers and two water scoopers. The fire was reported at 2 p.m. on Friday and was held to three acres.

The Bismark Fire (#196) burning 10 miles east of Ambler is considered 100 percent thanks to the efforts of eight smokejumpers, two water-scooping Fire Boss airplanes and firefighters coordinating suppression efforts from another airplane. They worked all day on the 620-acre fire burning on BLM land. The smokejumpers were the last ones off the fire today.

Map of fires in the BLM AFS Upper Yukon Zone for June 9, 2018.

Map of fires in the BLM AFS Upper Yukon Zone for June 9, 2018.

After Sunday, the Deniktaw Ridge Fire (#117) will be the only staffed fire in the Galena Zone. The Deniktaw Ridge and the Hot Springs (#156) fires burning 20 miles southwest of Hughes merged Thursday to burn a combined 7,000 acres so far. Due to its size and its fire activity, the BLM AFS Type 2 North Star Fire Crew and eight smokejumpers moved from suppression efforts to setting up protection measures on values in the area, including a two cabins and a mine operation. The fire is burning running, torching and flanking through mostly black spruce. It continued to spread to the north and west. It is now simply called the Deniktaw Ridge Fire.

As of Saturday morning, there were 92 active fires burning. A total of 191 fires have burned 47,839 acres statewide this year.

Contact Beth Ipsen at eipsen@blm.gov or (907)356-5510 for more information.

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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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