Smokejumpers deploy to protect cabins as hot, dry conditions breathe new life into fires south of Manley

Red dots show where satellite has detected new heat in the last 24 hours for both the Zitziana River Fire (#133) and Mooseheart Fire (#204) burning south of Manley.

Red dots show where satellite has detected new heat in the last 24 hours for both the Zitziana River Fire (#133) and Mooseheart Fire (#204) burning south of Manley. Click 7-23-18 Map w MODIS

Eight smokejumpers were deployed to Kindamina Lake on Sunday to protect cabins after the Zitziana River Fire (#133) made its second several-mile run this summer. The fire  grew several miles to flank around the southern end of the Kindamina Lake, prompting a response to help protect cabins on the lake’s edge. When the last firefighters left the lake on July 7, infrastructure such as sprinklers and hose systems, were left in place to protect lake cabins in case they were threatened by the fire. Other cabins located along the northeastern shore were not likely to be threatened by the fire since it had already burned around the properties.

The smokejumpers turned on sprinkler systems pointed at trees and brush surrounding the cabins to pretreat the fuels by making them unreceptive to fire and to bring up humidity levels that will help subdue fire activity. Some of the smokejumpers will be replaced by BLM AFS Fire Specialists today. They’ll use boats to move around the various properties and turn on sprinklers pointed directly at cabins if the fire gets close. All seven of the properties with structures on the west side of the lake were previously prepped in the event the fire got close.

The fire was moving quickly through thick black spruce stands and was active overnight, according to the smokejumpers on the ground. The area was too smoky to allow a good look at the fires from the air, however, satellite imagery showed heat spots surrounding the lake. Manley residents and pilots flying nearby reported seeing smoke in different places generated by the fire’s movement south and west on Sunday.

The Zitziana River Fire, which started on June 4, was an estimated 37,524 acres when last mapped on July 7. That number will likely grow substantially as indicated by heat signatures detected by satellite. The new heat is mostly coming from an area southwest of the lake, but a few new dots are showing up along the Zitziana River and to the northeast of the fire’s perimeter.

The neighboring Mooseheart Fire (#204), which started on June 6, was estimated 55,240 acres when a reconnaissance flight flew over the fire on Sunday. It was described as backing with single tree torching in a mixture of black spruce and hardwood. Both fires are burning in limited fire management option areas that allow fires to function in their normal ecological role while allowing for protection of structures and Native allotments that may be threatened. The two lightning-caused wildfires are approximately 100 miles west of Fairbanks and 8 miles south of Manley Hot Spring.

The Zitziana River Fire had as many as 145 people working on the fire in June, either on Kindamina Lake, the Iksgiza Lake to the east and structures and Native Allotments along the Tanana River to the north. A BLM AFS Type 3 management organization coordinated the operations from a camp in nearby Manley Hot Springs. That all changed when fire activity tapered and land managers and fire officials felt measures were put in place to bring people back and effectively protect the structures and Native allotments if needed. Part of that plan was to keep a close eye on the fires just in case they sprang back to life as they did over the weekend.

It’s another good reminder the fire season is not over in Alaska, especially as hot and dry conditions are predicted to persist through the weekend.

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.

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