Small, remote wildfires keep AFS smokejumpers hopping

Smoke rises from the Hadley Fire, a small wildfire discovered on the Tanana Flats on Wednesday. Eight smokejumpers responded to suppress the fire, which posed a threat to a military shelter cabin nearby. BLM Alaska Fire Service photo

The BLM Alaska Fire Service deployed smokejumpers to two small wildfires on Wednesday and one on Tuesday to protect structures and evaluate fire activity.
Eight smokejumpers were dropped on a small fire on the Tanana Flats about 20 miles south of Fairbanks on Wednesday to protect a military shelter cabin in the area.

The Hadley Fire (#258) was reported by Alaska Division of Forestry personnel flying over the area at around 1:30 p.m. The fire is burning south of the Tanana River and was reported to be about one-quarter of an acre with a military shelter cabin nearby. Smokejumpers are working to suppress the fire and protect the cabin with the help of water drops by a helicopter. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
BLM AFS also sent four smokejumpers to a small fire near the community of Eagle to determine whether the fire is wildfire or a shale fire. The Bull Creek Fire (#124) approximately 20 miles northwest of Eagle was originally reported as a lightning-caused fire on June 4.

A wisp of smoke surrounded by a burn scar is barely visible from the Bull Creek Fire about 20 miles northwest of Eagle. BLM Alaska Fire Service photo

However, fire managers are suspicious the fire may be burning in oil shale because it is located near Windfall Mountain, an area that has been identified as an oil shale deposit and has burning on and off for several years. The fire is also on the same hillside where two other fires have been reported in the past three years.

Smokejumpers were dropped on the remote fire to determine the fuel source. If the fire is determined to be an oil shale fire, smokejumpers will disengage the fire and cut out a helicopter landing zone so that researchers can land to access the area in the future. If it is a true wildfire, the fire will be allowed to burn because it is in a limited protection area where fires are allowed to function in their normal ecological role.
On Tuesday, eight smokejumpers were dropped on the Tatalina River Fire (#245) approximately 45 miles northwest of Fairbanks and 5 miles east of the Elliott Highway. The fire was originally reported as a 20-acre lightning-caused fire on June 15 but it was believed to be too big to catch so fire managers made the decision to let it burn because it is in a limited protection area and no resources were threatened. However, after receiving substantial rainfall and exhibiting minimal fire behavior, fire managers made the decision to suppress the fire because of its proximity to structures along the highway and the potential for the fire to grow in size over the next few months.

Categories: Active Wildland Fire, AK Fire Info

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