Oregon Lakes firefighters transition to structure protection

A firefighter backhauls gear as crews transition to structure protection
  • Start Date: April 30, 2019
  • Acres: 16,871
  • Personnel assigned: 152
  • Crews assigned: 6
  • Cause: human, under investigation

DELTA JUNCTION, Alaska – Mop up activities along the primary fireline west of Delta Junction have been finalized and firefighters are transitioning to structure protection in the Whitestone, Southbank and Richardson Clearwater communities.

Fire Managers and representatives from state and federal agencies decided to move firefighters after continually evaluating risks of working close to ordinance remaining in and near the Impact Area, which has been in use for more than 50 years. Firefighter safety is the top priority.

Several fires have been fought near the impact area in past years, but Fire Managers are aware of unexploded ordinance both within and outside the boundary the impact area, and crews continue to find evidence of military activity. Managers and agency administrators agreed reduce risk to firefighters by using a more indirect strategy involving point protection of resources. Crews will travel to communities today and protection activities will commence Friday. Although crews will not respond to initial attack of new starts within the impact area, they will respond to new starts threatening other areas.

In 2013, crews protected structures in all three communities from the Mississippi Fire. The same crews, composed of many of the 2013 firefighters, will be returning to those communities to install and test equipment and help residents prepare for the potential of a nearby fire.

The Oregon Lakes fire is expected to continue to expand to the north and west as warm weather and seasonal southerly winds continue. Rain showers over the past few days have slowed the spread of fire, but have not been sufficient to put the fire out. Warm temperatures in the afternoons have continued to dry vegetation and increase the likelihood of combustion.

A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the fire area will expand to prevent outside aircraft, including military aircraft, from interfering with aerial transportation or suppression efforts.

Forecasted weather: Light showers and thunder cells are forecast today with southerly winds. Temperatures will reach a high of 70 degrees. Relative humidity will remain low, bottoming out near 27 percent. Rain showers are predicted for tonight, but will not be sufficient to reduce the overall dry dryness and probability of ignition.

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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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