Wildland firefighters continue work to mop up two lightning-caused fires in southwest Alaska while the State Division of Forestry is monitoring four other fires in the area started by lightning in the past two days.
An eight-person initial attack squad from the village of Shageluk was mobilized Wednesday to replace eight smokejumpers from the BLM Alaska Fire Service who initially responded to the 18-acre Beaver Creek Fire (#173) approximately 33 miles west of McGrath. Firefighters continued to search for hot spots Wednesday night and found a few pockets of heat inside the perimeter of the fire that were extinguished. Today, firefighters are continuing to grid for and extinguish any hot spots found 30 feet inside from the perimeter.
The situation was similar on the 5.5-acre Lonesome Hills Fire (#171) approximately 13 miles east of McGrath. An initial attack squad from Nondalton was scheduled to replace the eight BLM AFS smokejumpers who initially responded to the fire Tuesday night. Smokejumpers laid hose around all but 500 feet of the fire perimeter Wednesday night and were able to locate a water source to get some water on the fire. Personnel will focus on gridding for hot spots 30 feet inside the perimeter today.
Four other fires in Limited protection areas are being monitored by state forestry in southwest Alaska:
- The Mt. Hurst Fire (#169) located approximately 55 miles west of McGrath remains at an estimated 150 acres. A reconnaissance flight at around noon on Wednesday revealed no smoke or fire activity.
- The Old Grouch Top Fire (#174) was reported by passing aircraft around noon on Wednesday. It was estimated to be 20 acres and was burning in black spruce and tundra within an old fire scar. The fire was creeping to the east at last report but does not pose a threat.
- The Ongivinuk River Fire (#175) was reported Wednesday around 1 p.m. by Togiak National Wildlife Refuge staff in Dillingham who flew over the fire. It is located at the confluence of No Lake Creek and the Ongivinuk River, approximately 45 miles northwest of Dillingham. It was estimated at 10 acres and burning in moss and tundra. There are cabins approximately 5 miles west of the fire but they are not threatened at this time.
- The Buzzard Peak Fire (#176) is located about 3 miles north of the Ongivinuk River Fire and is estimated at one-half acre. It was reported at around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday by aircraft flying another fire mission in the area. No smoke was visible at that time.
More lightning is forecast in southwest Alaska today and fire managers with the Alaska Division of Forestry will be conducting detection flights to search for any fires that may pop up as a result.