Smokejumpers, water scoopers corral Seward Peninsula fire

Smokejumpers quickly knocked down a fire burning near a mine in the middle of the Seward Penninsula Thursday. The Anchorage Flight Service reported a two-acre fire burning about 46 miles north of Council Thursday evening. The eight smokejumpers, with the aid of two water-scooping Fire Boss aircraft, got a handle on the Gillette Creek Fire (#319) burning in tundra and brush a couple of miles from structures and mining equipment. By the time the airplane delivering the smokejumpers got over the fire late Thursday, it had grown to 40 acres and was 100 percent active.

By Friday, the burned area was estimated at 65 acres as smokejumpers moved into mop operations. They plan on having things wrapped up and demobilize Saturday morning before remnants of Typhoon Prapiroon (named after the Thai rain god) moves into Western Alaska this weekend.

The Gillette Creek Fire was one of four fires discovered yesterday in the BLM AFS Galena Zone that covers Western Alaska north of the Yukon River. The three others were just black spots where fire had started from lightning strikes about two weeks ago and had since naturally extinguished. However, the Gillette Creek Fire is suspected to be human caused based on the absence of lightning strikes in the area and due to a trail running through its perimeter.

For more information, contact BLM AFS Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at (907)356-5510 or eipsen@blm.gov.

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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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