Work continues on fires as Alaska experiences highest fire danger of the year

This MesoWest maps shows the active fires burning in Alaska and the Fire Weather Index (FWI) levels for the state. The FWI is a numeric rating of fire intensitiy and combines the Initial Spread Index (expect rate of spread) and Buildup Index (total amount of fuel available for combustion) and is a suitable as a general index of fire danger throughout the forested areas. It represents the intensity of a spreading fire.

This MesoWest maps shows the active fires burning in Alaska and the Fire Weather Index (FWI) levels for the state. The FWI is a numeric rating of fire intensitiy and combines the Initial Spread Index (expect rate of spread) and Buildup Index (total amount of fuel available for combustion) and is a suitable as a general index of fire danger throughout the forested areas. It represents the intensity of a spreading fire. Red indicated the highest level of potential while blue is the lowest. You can find the MesoWest fire weather information application on the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center at https://fire.ak.blm.gov/predsvcs/weather.php

Work continues on four staffed fires as the state continues to experience the highest fire danger so far this year. Temperatures are predicted to cool by a couple of degrees and humidity levels are expected to tick up a bit in the upcoming days and moderate by the weekend with the warmest temperatures remaining in Eastern Interior Alaska. New starts will have more potential with each additional day of drying. There has been relatively few lightning strikes – about 210 in Alaska yesterday – to ignite new fires. However, six of yesterday’s new fires were caused by lightning. Fire officials will continue detection flights, especially in the Upper Yukon Zone where it’s been hot and dry most of the summer.

A squad of EFF firefighters are headed to Kindamina Lake to help mop up around structures after the Zitziana River Fire (#133) south of Manley Hot Springs burned up to the west side of the lake yesterday. Extremely hot and dry conditions over the last 48 hours resulted in large fire growth on the southeast portion of the fire. Firefighters protected several structures on the west side of the lake and will continue secure the fire edge around the structures now that the main threat has diminished. The fire has burned an estimated 54,411 acres and is burning in the BLM AFS Tanana Fire Management Zone about 100 miles west of Fairbanks.

Meanwhile, firefighters are assessing numerous structures that dot the landscape near the Dome Creek Fire (#361) burning in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve about 65 miles northwest of Eagle. The fire is burning in between the Woodchopper and Coal creeks that were used by miners during the Gold Rush days. What’s left are historical buildings including historical Coal Creek mining camp. The Dome Creek Fire was spotted by National Park Service (NPS) personnel flying from the mining camp to Fairbanks via a helicopter late Monday night. There are six fires burning along the Yukon River in the national preserve in the BLM AFS Upper Yukon Fire Management Zone. Five are in limited option area that are in monitor status because they are not immediately threatening structures.

A small incident management team is taking over coordinating efforts on the Dome Creek Fire and staging out of the preserve facilities at the Coal Creek mine. It will be an interagency effort between BLM AFS and the NPS with a combination of firefighters and helicopters from both agencies. The Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve has temporary closed its Coal Creek and Slavin’s facilities in order to allow firefighters and aircraft from BLM AFS and the NPS stage while managing protection measures on the numerous structures in the area. The fire was estimated to be 55 acres and burning in a mixture of black spruce and birch in a limited option area. However, because the fire was threatening nearby buildings, four smokejumpers were deployed Tuesday to suppress the fire. Things were going well until the wind shifted and pushed the fire up the hill. At that point, the smokejumpers pulled back and focused on preparing the area to bring in more firefighters who will concentrate on protecting values at risk.

Smokejumpers continued to work in steep terrain where the Hughes Mountain Fire (#363) is burning three miles from Hughes on the opposite side of the Koyukuk River. The fire remained at an estimated 25 acres and is smoldering, creeping and group torching through black spruce on Native corporation land within the BLM AFS Galena Fire Management Zone. While the fire is not immediately threatening the village, the fire is at the top of a 1,500-foot ridge and covered with a continuous timber slope that leads to the river opposite the village. The four water-scooping Fire Boss airplanes and the Alaska Division of Forestry contracted air tanker helped keep the fire perimeter in check yesterday as smokejumpers worked to contain the fire. Luckily, the Fire Boss aircraft, which can each dump 800 gallons of water at a time, are able to scoop water out of the nearby Koyukuk River, giving them a three-minute turnaround time. The aircraft and eight smokejumpers managed to take a significant amount of heat out of the fire and keep it from gaining much size. The Fire Boss aircraft and the eight smokejumpers continued working on the fire today.

The Type 2 Mooseheart Mountain Crew with emergency firefighters (EFF) from Minto, Ruby and Tanana joined the 65 firefighters already working on the 4,700-acre Taixtsalda Hill Fire (#357) burning between Northway and Tok. The Alaska Division of Forestry is managing this fire. Click on link to read more about the Taixtsalda Hill Fire.

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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