State forestry still contending with three wildfires in southwest Alaska

The Alaska Division of Forestry continues to staff three stubborn, lightning-caused wildfires in southwest Alaska as conditions in that part of the state remain warm and dry.
Firefighters remain engaged on the 650-acre Molybdenum Mountain Fire (#139) about 20 miles north of the Kuskokwim River village of Chuathbaluk and the 320-acre Reindeer Lake Fire (#191) near the Yukon River village of Holy Cross, both of which were started last week by lightning. State forestry also ordered a load of eight BLM Alaska Fire Service smokejumpers to work on the 213-acre Doestock Creek Fire (#182) on Monday.
The three fires are among 26 active wildfires in the Southwest Area around McGrath, all of which were started by lightning in the past week.

The Division of Forestry’s Pioneer Peak Interagency Hotshot Crew was released from the Reindeer Lake Fire on Monday and reassigned to the Molybdenum Mountain Fire after activity intensified on the north side of the fire Monday due to stronger north winds. The Pioneer Peak Crew joined the Yukon Type 2 Initial Attack Crew on the fire, putting the total number of personnel at 44.
The increased fire behavior on the interior of the fire on Monday raised concerns that the fire could spread outside the current perimeter and prompted the ordering of an air tanker and two water-scooping aircraft to drop retardant and water on the fire. A helicopter was also used for strategic water drops, as well as for crew shuttles. Today’s plan is to scout for water sources and install hose on the north side of the fire. The fire was 40 percent contained as of Monday night.
The Doestock Creek Fire was started by lightning on June 6 in a Modified protection area about 4 miles south of the village of Chuathbaluk on the oppose side of the Kuskokwim River. The fire was not staffed until Monday after a reconnaissance flight showed increased fire activity near the perimeter of the fire. A five-person helitack crew from McGrath responded and a helicopter was used for strategic water drops. A load of eight smokejumpers that were prepositioned in McGrath were also dropped on the fire.
Firefighters dry mopped the perimeter of the fire Monday night and found about 20 smokes on the north/northeast flank. They also reported approximately 50 smokes in the interior of the fire but they were not particularly active. Today’s plan is to continue to secure the perimeter and reassess fire activity during the burn period to gauge fire behavior. The goal is to extinguish all smokes and hotspots by the end of shift Tuesday.
The Upper Kalskag Type 2 hand crew remains on the Reindeer Lake Fire. Firefighters reached their containment objectives on Monday and are planning to demobilize on Wednesday.

About Alaska Division of Forestry

Alaska Division of Forestry website: Mission: The Alaska Division of Forestry proudly serves Alaskans through forest management and wildland fire protection. The Wildland Fire and Aviation Program provides safe, cost-effective and efficient fire protection services and related fire and aviation management activities to protect human life and values on State, private and municipal lands. The wildland fire program cooperates with other wildland fire agencies on a statewide, interagency basis.

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