The Alaska Division of Forestry is responding to a wildfire that could potentially threaten a remote border crossing station on the Top of the World Highway between Tok and Dawson City, Yukon.
The fire, named the Top of the World Fire, was called in at 5:20 p.m. by officials at the Poker Creek-Little Gold Creek Border Crossing after multiple lightning strikes in the area. The fire is approximately 7 miles southwest of the border station and 5 miles south of the Top of the World Highway Border officials reported the fire was growing rapidly and putting up a large smoke column.
Eight smokejumpers from the BLM Alaska Fire Service in Fairbanks were flown to the fire and estimated it at 5 to 10 acres with an 80 percent active perimeter burning in black spruce and tundra grass on a ridgetop. They described the fire behavior as smoldering and creeping with occasional torching in the black spruce with flame lengths of 10 to 20 feet. The fire was spotting 400 yards in front of itself with a moderate spread to the northeast. By 8 p.m, the fire had grown to approximately 25 acres.
There are numerous structures in the area with continuous fuels between the fire and structures. No structures were immediately threatened, the smokejumpers reported.
Fire managers ordered a second load of smokejumpers from Fairbanks, as well as two air tanker to drop retardant around the fire to slow its spread. The second load of smokejumpers and the air tanker departed Fairbanks at around 7:40 p.m. The second air tanker departed Palmer at approximately 8 p.m.
The border crossing station is located at Mile 64.7 of the Top of the World Highway, approximately 14 miles from its junction with the Taylor Highway. It is the northernmost international border crossing in North America and is also the highest at an elevation of 4,127 feet.
Border officials told Division of Forestry dispatchers in Tok that they were formulating an evacuation plan and would staff the border station minimally until the last minute but would leave the gates open for gold miners in the area to evacuate to the Canada side if needed. The border station closes daily at 9 p.m.