Wildfire near Tok now estimated at 730 acres

A view of the smoke column from the north side of the Taixtsalda Hill Fire taken during Monday’s initial attack. Tim Whitesell/Alaska Division of Forestry

A wildfire southeast of Tok had grown to an estimated 730 acres as of late Monday night and firefighters will be trying to keep it in check today with another day of near-record high temperatures forecast in the eastern Interior.

The Taixtsalda Hill Fire (#357) is burning approximately 38 miles southeast of Tok and 16 miles southwest of the village of Northway. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time and is under investigation.
The fire was reported at around 12:45 p.m. Monday as a 20-acre fire but it grew rapidly despite an aggressive aerial assault by the Alaska Division of Forestry. An air retardant tanker, three water-scooping planes and a helicopter dropped retardant and water on the fire throughout the day and late into the evening but the fire continued to increase in size given the hot, dry conditions, gusty winds and an unlimited fuel source in the form of a large expanse of black spruce.
The National Weather Service is forecasting another day of hot, dry conditions today with temperatures climbing into the mid 80s. Similar conditions are expected on Wednesday and the weather service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the Deltana and Tanana Flats and eastern Alaska Range through Wednesday evening.

A flame front burns through black spruce in this aerial photo of the Taixtsalda Hill Fire taken Monday. Jason Jordet/Alaska Division of Forestry

The plan today is to again use aircraft to slow the spread of the fire while ground crews are strategically deployed around the perimeter to assist the eight BLM Alaska Fire Service smokejumpers that were initially deployed on the fire Monday. Two Type 2 hand crews arrived at the fire Monday night and two more are en route today. That will put the number of personnel working on the fire at close to 100.

Firefighters and aircraft will focus their efforts on the east and northwest sides of the fire where it has been most active.
Fire managers are also assessing what may be threatened by the fire, such as Native allotments and cabins. The fire is burning in a full protection management area on Tetlin Village Corporation lands and there is a Native allotment approximately 4 miles to the east of the fire and a cabin 6 miles to the southeast.

About Alaska Division of Forestry

Alaska Division of Forestry website: http://forestry.alaska.gov/ Mission: The Alaska Division of Forestry proudly serves Alaskans through forest management and wildland fire protection. The Wildland Fire and Aviation Program provides safe, cost-effective and efficient fire protection services and related fire and aviation management activities to protect human life and values on State, private and municipal lands. The wildland fire program cooperates with other wildland fire agencies on a statewide, interagency basis.

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