Oregon Lakes Firefighters inserted in communities to begin structure protection

The three Hot Shot Crews assigned to the the Oregon Lakes Fire today are self contained and prepare fresh food at their remote camps while protecting structures.
  • Start Date: April 30, 2019
  • Acres: 16,871
  • Personnel assigned: 152
  • Crews assigned: 6
  • Cause: human, under investigation

DELTA JUNCTION, Alaska – Firefighter crews from the Oregon Lakes Fire have arrived in the Whitestone Farms, Southbank and Richardson Clearwater River communities. Additional equipment will be air-dropped today. Crews will begin structure protection today and also look for locations where contingency fire lines could be constructed. Crews will protect structures at Rainbow Lake.

The crews providing structure protection now are the same crews that protected structures from the Mississippi Fire in 2013. Their local experience is a big advantage and will allow field operations to be conducted efficiently. Fire is not currently threatening the communities, but equipment will be installed and tested to help residents and property owners be prepared if fire becomes more active and moves north.

Crews are not working on the ground within the Impact Area to contain the fire. The Oregon Lakes Fire is being monitored and Fire Managers will use aerial suppression techniques as needed to slow its progress. The fire is expected to expand to the north and west as warm weather and seasonal southerly winds continue, but it is not possible to predict how far the fire will travel. Recent showers have slowed fire progression, but were not sufficient to put the fire out.

Fire Managers and representatives from state and federal agencies decided to redirect firefighters from building and defending firelines within the military impact area to reduce risk to firefighters. Military debris, some of which is dangerous, remains in and near the Impact Area, which has been in use for more than 50 years. Firefighter safety is the top priority.

Although crews cannot respond to initial attack of new starts within the impact area, aircraft resources can still respond as needed. Crews can respond to new starts threatening areas outside of the impact zone.

A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the fire area has expanded to cover land south of the Tanana River, east of Delta Creek, west of the Delta River and north of Delta Junction. The TFR is designed to prevent private, commercial, military and drones of any kind from interfering with aerial transportation or suppression efforts. Drones pose a serious risk to firefighting and can cause aircraft to be grounded. The public is reminded that, “If you fly, we can’t!”

Forecasted weather: Temperatures today are predicted in the low 60s. Chinook winds out of the south will develop Saturday through Sunday at speeds 8-14mph with gusts to 35 mph. Rain will not be sufficient to reduce the overall dry dryness or 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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