The BLM AFS is mobilizing firefighters and aircraft to assess the situation in case Native allotments and cabins along the Tanana River and a nearby lake south of Manley Hot Springs need to be protected after the Zitziana River Fire (#133) made a six mile run overnight.
Windy conditions, smoke and high fire activity have hindered fire managers’ efforts to make sure appropriate measures are in place, while also ensuring firefighter safety.
After noticing heat signatures from a satellite mapping system indicating significant growth on the fire burning about eight miles south of Manley Hot Springs, a load of smokejumpers took to the air Thursday morning to verify the information and parachute into the area if needed. They reported seeing significant growth and with a potential spread toward several structures and Native allotments on the south side of the Tanana River. However, to what extent is unknown because smoke hindered their visibility and they weren’t able to see a full extent of the fire’s growth. Four smokejumpers parachuted along the Tanana River. Meanwhile, another load of smokejumpers were deployed to protect structures on the Kindamina Lake. About 20 firefighters with the Type 1 Midnight Sun Hotshots are driving to Manley today to join the efforts along the Tanana River. More firefighting personnel, boats and aircraft will stage out of nearby Manley Hot Springs to help shuttle the smokejumpers and hotshots along the Tanana River to help figure out what the area looks like in case they need to set up protection measures around cabins and Native allotments nearby.
In addition, a Division of Forestry air tanker was asked to drop retardant to the north of the Kindanina Lake to create a protective buffer around structures. The fire is burning two miles to the north.
BLM AFS Tanana Zone fire personnel have flown the Zitzianana River Fire, as well as the nearby Mooseheart Fire (#204), every day since the lightning-caused fire started on June 4. While the Mooseheart Fire, estimated at 45,000 acres on Thursday, has overshadowed the smaller fire both figuratively and literally, the Zitziana River Fire made substantial gains Wednesday thanks in large part to westerly winds pushing it through a predominately black spruce landscape. It is estimated at 2,300 acres. Because both fires are burning within a limited fire management option area, no action was taken to allow them to function in a natural ecological role.
The Mooseheart Fire started on June 7 and has been putting up much of the smoke that has drifted into populated areas in the Tanana Valley. A cold front moving in from the northwest pushed gusty winds through the area that also kicked up fire activity on both fires. The cold front could be accompanied by rain this weekend, but it’s unknown if any is going to touch these fires.
For more information, contact BLM AFS Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (907)356-5510.
Categories: AK Fire Info