Firefighters continue work on Southwest Alaska fires

One new lightning-caused wildfire was reported in the Division of Forestry’s Southwest protection area on Friday.

The 55-acre Sunshine Mountains fire is located in a Limited protection area approximately 35 miles northeast of McGrath. The fire was reported by a state forestry aircraft at around 7:30 p.m. Friday.

A map showing the locations of the 22 active fires in the Alaska Division of Forestry’s Southwest Area. Map by Dan Labarre/Alaska Divsion of Forestry.

The fire is actually two fires that were burning only 150 yards apart and merged shortly after being reported. The fire perimeter was 100 percent active and the fire was burning in continuous black spruce with 20-plus foot flame lengths. There were no resources threatened and the fire will be monitored by air.

Firefighters, meanwhile, continued suppression efforts on three other fires reported in Southwest Alaska earlier this week – the Kisarlik River Fire 30 miles northeast of Bethel; the Scow Harry Creek Fire 14 miles north of Nikolai; and the Chulitna River Fire 135 miles northeast of Dillingham.

Six smokejumpers from the BLM Alaska Fire Service continued work on the Kisarlik River Fire (#245), which remained active overnight, burning in the tundra and peat banks. Gusty winds were fanning the fire Friday, causing it to be resistant to control even with water on it. The head of the fire was active late into the evening and the peat was proving to be stubborn to suppression. Firefighters were setting up more pumps and laying more hose to get more water on the fire.

Twenty-eight firefighters are working to contain the 24-acre Scow Harry Creek Fire (#243) near Nikolai. The White Mountain Type 2 Initial Attack Crew based in Fairbanks arrived at the fire at 5 p.m. Friday, joining eight smokejumpers that were already working on the fire. The fire exhibited isolated torching and creeping throughout the day but firefighters were able to make good progress and called the fire contained at 8:30 p.m. The fire received one- to two-tenths of an inch of rain overnight and it was still raining lightly on Saturday morning. Firefighters will be working to secure the perimeter of the fire today and gridding heavily on the northern side of the fire.

Sixteen firefighters continued work on the Chulitna River Fire (#237), which is 16 miles north of the village of Nondalton. Personnel gridded 30 feet in from the perimeter of the fire and found multiple hot spots in the interior of the fire that were extinguished. Today, the plan is to do a final grid of the fire with demobilization expected on Sunday.

There are currently 22 active fires in the Southwest Area around Bethel, Dillingham and McGrath, most of which are burning in Limited protection areas and are being monitored because they do not pose an immediate threat. Monitoring schedules are based on defined time frames, but are dependent on available resources, and weather conditions. When monitoring occurs, information will be updated.

Here is a rundown of the fires being monitored:

  • Nunavakpak Lake Fire (#244) – (15 acres). Reported on Jun 13. Located in a Full protection area approximately 33 miles west of Bethel. The fire was flown on Friday and the perimeter was 6% active, smoldering and creeping with winds out of the west at 10 mph. The fire was running into unreceptive fuels and burning itself out.
  • Eek Lake Fire (#241) – (1.5 acres). Located in a Full protection area approximately 17 miles southeast of Bethel. Reported on June 12. The fire was flown on Thursday and no smoke or fire activity was observed.
  • Little Kasigluk Fire (#240) – (500 acres). Located 36 miles east of Bethel in a Limited protection area.
  • Long Lake Fire (#239) – (2.6 acre). Located in a Full protection area approximately 135 miles northeast of Dillingham and 14 miles north of the village of Nondalton.
  • Steve Fire (#238) – (2 acres). Located in a Limited protection area approximately 70 miles southeast of Bethel. The fire was flown Friday and no smoke or fire activity was observed.
  • Tutna Lake Fire (#229) – (10 acres). Located in a Limited protection area approximately 140 miles northeast of Dillingham.
  • Bakbuk Creek Fire (#227) – (900 acres). Located in a Limited protection area approximately 165 miles southwest of McGrath.
  • Shoeleather Creek Fire (#226) – (150 acres). Located in a Limited protection area approximately 80 miles south of McGrath. Fire was flown on Thursday and no smoke or fire activity was observed.
  • Dishna River Fire (#210) – (25 acres) Located in a Limited protection area 55 miles northwest of McGrath. Fire was flown on Thursday and no smoke or fire activity was observed.
  • Kulukak River Fire (#204) – (6.3 acres) Located in a Limited protection area approximately 35 northwest of Dillingham in the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. Fire was flown Friday and no smoke or fire activity was observed.
  • Buchia Ridge (#203) – (20 acres) Located in a Limited protection area approximately 35 miles west of Dillingham in the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. Fire was flown Friday and no smoke or fire activity was observed.
  • Kipchuk Fire (#198) – (231 acres). Located in a Limited protection area 45 miles south of Aniak. The fire was flown on Thursday and no activity was observed.
  • Dollar Creek Fire (#193) – (0.1 acres) Located in a Modified protection area approximately 30 miles west of McGrath. The fire was flown on Thursday and no activity was observed.
  • Little East Fork Fire (#192) – (150 acres) Located in a Limited protection area approximately 45 miles southwest of McGrath. The fire was flown on Thursday and no smoke or fire activity was observed.
  • Buzzard Peak Fire (#176) – (7.8 acres) Located in a Modified protection area approximately 40 miles northwest of Dillingham. Fire was flown Friday and no smoke or fire activity was observed.
  • Ongivinuck River Fire (#175) – (2198 acres) Located in a Limited protection area approximately 44 miles northeast of Dillingham in the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. Fire was flown Friday and no smoke or fire activity was observed.
  • Old Grouch Top Fire (#174) – (2500 acres) Located in a Modified protection area approximately 40 miles northwest of McGrath. The fire was flown on Friday and had increased by almost 1,500 acres since Thursday. The perimeter was 50% active and the fire was still on the west side of the Dishna River, with some spotting across smaller sloughs.

The Southwest Area Forestry office in McGrath appreciates reports from the public regarding fire activity and will be conducting detection flights to look for other new fires in the area. To report new fires in the Southwest Area, call 907-524-3366 (FIRE LINE). For more infromation call Alaska Division of Forestry Public Information Officer Tim Mowry at 907-356-5511 or visit AKFIREINFO.COM online for current statewide fire information.

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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