Tanana Valley may see more smoke in coming days

UAFSMOKE Wildfire Smoke Prediction for Alaska website shows smoke rolling through at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Go to http://smoke.arsc.edu/forecast.html to see smoke predictions.

UAF SMOKE Wildfire Smoke Prediction for Alaska website shows smoke rolling through the Tanana Valley at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Go to http://smoke.arsc.edu/forecast.html to see smoke predictions.

Tanana reported the presence of a smoke haze this morning that may move farther west in the next couple of days. Large fires burning across central Alaska have grown in the past few days, producing smoke that will likely waft south, then east across the Tanana Valley on Wednesday. Weather has turned cold in the northern half of the state since a cold front moved down from the Arctic. However, much of northern and central Alaska remains dry and susceptible to increased fire activity despite the cold temperatures. Thankfully, there were only 12 lightning strikes recorded yesterday and only two new fires – both in the BLM Alaska Fire Service Galena Zone.

The Tanana Valley was blanketed by smoke over the weekend, which triggered phone calls to the Fairbanks Area Forestry dispatch center by citizens concerned there were new fires in the area. Because this ties up dispatchers that are busy coordinating firefighters on the ground and the air, people should instead call the interagency Fire Information line at (907)356-5511 for information about fires and smoke. People spotting new fires should still report them by calling 911 or 1-800-237-3633. Inquiries regarding blanketing smoke or old fires should go to the Fire Information Office.

Map of large fires burning in Central Alaska that have growth in the past 24 hours as shown by satellite imagery. Smoke these fires are producing may drift across the Tanana Valley in the upcoming days.

Map of large fires burning in Central Alaska that have growth in the past 24 hours as shown by satellite imagery. Smoke these fires are producing may drift across the Tanana Valley in the upcoming days.

The anticipated smoke is coming from several large fires burning in the heart of Alaska. They include:

The Deniktaw Ridge Fire (#117) is burning in between Hughes and Huslia. Photo by Lakota Burwell, BLM AFS

The Deniktaw Ridge Fire (#117) is burning in between Hughes and Huslia. Photo by Lakota Burwell, BLM AFS

The Deniktaw Ridge Fire (#117) was putting up a large column of smoke when flown by BLM AFS fire personnel on Monday. It merged with the Hot Springs Fire (#156) last week and is burning in between Huslia and Hughes. The fire’s listed size of 8,525 acres does not include yesterday’s growth. There are 32 people working on the fire, including the Type 2 North Star Fire Crew and eight smokejumpers. The North Star Fire Crew, which is the BLM AFS training crew, has been on the fire since June 5. They have been setting up protection measures on several values at risk such as cabins, a radio tower and mining sites. This includes such as hose lays and sprinkler systems to wet the immediate area down if needed. This lightning-caused fire started on June 4.

The 21,366-acre Mooseheart Fire (#204) is burning 13 miles southwest of Manley Hot Springs. Photo by Cody Nelson, BLM AFS

The 21,366-acre Mooseheart Fire (#204) is burning 13 miles southwest of Manley Hot Springs. Photo by Cody Nelson, BLM AFS

The Mooseheart Fire (#204) was the culprit generating most of the smoke in the Tanana Valley this weekend. Fire personnel flew it yesterday and will do so again today. Yesterday, it was reported as 50 percent active and backing, running and torching with a moderate spread rate to the east, west and north through a mixture of black spruce, hardwoods and tundra. It is estimated at 21,366 acres, a gain of 7,360 acres since Sunday. BLM AFS fire officials will keep a close eye on this fire due to the cabins and the Native allotments that are in the wider area. However, at this time, nothing is immediately threatened. This lightning-caused fire is burning about 13 miles southwest of Manley Hot Springs on the south side of the Tanana River. It dwarfs the nearby Zitziana River Fire (#133), which is burning on both sides of the river it’s named after. It’s estimated at 1,750 acres and was creeping and backing when fire personnel flew it yesterday.

The Dulby Hot Springs Fire (#174) continues to grow at a moderate rate to the southeast, while slowly growing to the north and west. This lightning-caused fire was flown by Galena Zone personnel on Monday and was estimated at 12,474 acres, a growth of about 2,500 acres since Sunday. It is burning in a limited option area and will continue to be monitored.

The Kilolitna River Fire (#173) burning 50 north of Tanana and was estimated at 9,600 acres, an increase of about 2,500 acres since Saturday. This lightning-caused fire was creeping and backing in tundra with 10 percent of its perimeter active. This fire will remain in monitor status. This lightning-caused fire started on June 6.

The Little Melozitna River (#171) was flown by fire personnel on Monday. It was estimated at 7,700 acres, a gain of 4,215 acres since Friday. It was reported as smoldering and backing with some isolated torching on the east flank. It’s burning in a mixture of black spruce, tundra and hardwood with a moderate rate of spread to the northwest and southeast. This fire will also remain in monitor status. This lightning-caused fire started on June 6.

If aggravated by the smoke, stay indoors with the windows shut. Find an air-conditioned building, such as a library, to spend the afternoons when the concentration may be the highest. In addition, you may want to limit physical activities.

More information can be found at the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center’s air quality page at https://fire.ak.blm.gov/predsvcs/airquality.php

For more information regarding the fires, contact BLM AFS Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at eipsen@blm.gov or the Fire Information office at (907)356-5511.

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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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