Rain falls on Yukon Flats fires

This maps shows areas of Alaska that received rain on Wednesday

This maps shows areas of Alaska that received rain on Wednesday. The weather station in Chalkyitsik reported receiving more than a half an inch of rain, however, some neighboring weather stations reported significantly less rainfall, including the Fort Yukon weather station with only .02 of an inch.

The area around Chalkyitsik received wetting rains Wednesday to help firefighters’ efforts to contain a trio of fires burning in the Yukon Flats. Crews continue to secure the edges and mop-up two fires burning since July 2 and a five-person heliatack crew was able to corral a new fire that popped up Wednesday. An estimated 80 percent of the Applevun Fire (#305) is contained while the Tiechovun Lake Fire (#304) is about 35 percent contained. Firefighters on the ground of the Applevun Fire and Tiechovun Lake Fire reported significant rainfall for several hours on Wednesday. The weather station in Chalkyitsik reported receiving more than a half an inch of rain, however, some neighboring weather stations reported significantly less rainfall, including the Fort Yukon weather station with only .02 of an inch.

Map of the Applevun, Tiechovun Lake and Coiled fires in relation to Chalyitsik.

Map of the Applevun, Tiechovun Lake and Coiled fires in relation to Chalyitsik.

These three fires are the only ones out of 66 active fires that are staffed in Alaska. While most of the state has received rain from a series of low-pressure systems that have moved in from the Bering Sea, the Yukon Flats remained mostly dry until Wednesday. The rain may be short lived as has a high pressure ridge will move over Alaska in the next couple of days. Firefighters on the Applevun Fire reported sun shining through the clouds this morning while the Tiechovun Lake Fire was still under 90 percent cloud cover. Regardless of whether there will be showers in the Yukon Flats today, humidity levels are expected to be in or near the 40s today to hopefully keep fire activity moderated.

After securing the edge of a small brush fire that popped up 17 miles northeast of Fort Yukon, heavy rain fell on the Coiled Fire (#337) as the five firefighters were leaving the fire for the night. They are returning today to mop up the fire that was smoldering in 4 to 5 inch-deep peat moss. The fire burned a third of an acre in a full management option area within the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge. It was spotted at 3 p.m. by BLM AFS Upper Yukon Zone personnel aboard fire detection aircraft.

Meanwhile, firefighters estimated a half an inch of rain dropped on the 2,709-acre Tiechovun Lake Fire burning about 16 miles south of Chalkyitsik. Crews and squads of firefighters moving around by motorboats continued to mop up deeper into the burned areas, making sure its cold. There are 98 firefighting personnel working on the fire. They’re using a hand-held infrared device to fly over the fire to reveal hot spots otherwise undetectable to the human eye in order to get 100 percent containment before demobilizing.

The eight smokejumpers on the 100-acre Applevun Fire are searching out and extinguishing hot spots on the south flank while the 20-person Midnight Sun Hotshots are moving along the north flank. Aided by a small drone outfitted with an infrared camera, the firefighters are searching for pockets of heat within the fire’s perimeter. So far, the drone has uncovered several hot spots that are burning deep in the organic layer, prolonging the mop-up efforts as the fire is smoldering in suppression-resistant peat. The lightning-caused fire is burning on Native corporation land in a modified management option area about 10 miles west of Chalkyitsik.

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

###

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.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: