Lightning causes 16 new fires on Seward Peninsula

Smokejumpers and water-scoopers are working on a handful of fires in the Deering area after BLM Alaska Fire Service had 16 new fire starts on the Seward Peninsula within a little more than three hours Wednesday. All are a result of lightning strikes that crisscrossed the Seward Peninsula Wednesday and all were reported between a quarter of an acre to two acres in size.

Map of lightning and active fires burning on the Seward Peninsula.

Numerous lightning strikes were recorded across the Seward Peninsula Wednesday, causing 16 new fire starts south of Deering and north of Nome. Click on 6-19-19 Fire & Lightning on Seward Peninsula for PDF map.

 

A load of eight smokejumpers was divided evenly for four small fires burning near the Kuzitrin River south of Deering. Between the work done by smokejumpers and help from the water-scooping Fire Boss aircraft, they appeared to be getting a handle on the small fires Wednesday night, according to BLM AFS Galena Zone fire managers. The smokejumpers will work through the early morning and tentatively plan to demobilize tomorrow.

Instead of giving the new fires individual names, they are broken into two groups – Kugruk River 1-7 for a cluster of fires near in the center of the peninsula and Kuzitrin River 1-9 for the group near Deering and Candle. The fires near Deering were reported by people in the area. The Kugruk River fires near Mary’s Igloo were spotted by Galena Zone personnel aboard a detection flight after a large number of lightning strikes were recorded on the Seward Peninsula. The closest one is about 56 miles north of Nome.

The Kugruk River fires are burning in a limited management option area. All were placed in monitor status because they are not threatening any resources or structures. The Kutzitrin River fires are burning in a modified option area and generated response from the Galena Zone. The closest fire is about 10 miles west of Candle. They’re all 14 miles or more south of Deering.

All are tundra fires with the exception of Kuzitrin River 9 fire (#287) burning on the Koyuk River 55 miles north of Elim.

Another separate, new fire, the five-acre Clem Mountain Fire (#291), is burning in a modified management option area about eight miles west of Buckland. It was reported by the Buckland Fire Chief at about 8:15 p.m.

These are all in addition to the approximately 43,000-acre North River Fire #218 that is burning 88 miles northeast of Koyuk since June 10. It produced smoke that has blanketed the peninsula several times this past week.

Map showing location of active fires on the Seward Peninsula.

The Seward Peninsula had 16 new fires on Wednesday. Click on link 6-19-19 Seward Peninsula map fires for PDF map.

For more information, contact BLM AFS Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at (907)356-5510 or eipsen@blm.gov.

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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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