Rain, cooler weather help tamp down wildfires in Fairbanks, Tok

Heavy precipitation on Saturday and drizzly, cool weather on Sunday greatly subdued fire activity on the 310-acre Caribou Creek Fire (#255) burning north of Two Rivers about 25 miles east of Fairbanks.

The remote, lightning-caused fire approximately 7.5 miles north of Chena Hot Springs Road near milepost 18 was 40 percent contained as of Sunday morning, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry.

A storm cell dumped significant rainfall at the Caribou Creek Fire staging area at Two Rivers Elementary School on Saturday night, as well as on the fire. Photo by Brandon Kobayashi/Alaska Smokejumpers

A storm cell dumped significant rainfall at the Caribou Creek Fire staging area at Two Rivers Elementary School on Saturday night, as well as on the fire. Photo by Brandon Kobayashi/Alaska Smokejumpers

On Saturday, water-scooping aircraft and helicopters were used to drop water on the west side of the fire before a large storm cell passed over and dropped significant rain on the fire.

Due to the wet conditions, there is little potential for growth beyond the existing burn area and firefighters are using this advantage to make good progress on putting in a fireline around the perimeter. The goal is to have a line around the entire fire by the end of shift today.

The addition of one Type 1 hotshot crew on Saturday should hasten work in completing the line around the fire. Additional crews are on order to take the place of crews that will be timing out in the coming days.

Once firefighters complete a containment line around the fire much work remains to cut up dead trees that have fallen or been blown down. Crews will then begin the process of gridding for hotspots 300 feet inside the perimeter of the fire.

Though the rain significantly moderated fire behavior, it will also make firefighters’ jobs harder because of the wet, slippery conditions.

Here is a roundup of other fires in the Fairbanks and Tok areas that the Division of Forestry is working on:

Fairbanks Area

Smoke from the Olnes Pond Fire (#346) as seen from a helicopter carrying firefighers to the fire. Olnes Pond is in the bottom left of the photo. Photo by Ernest Prax/Alaska Division of Forestry

Smoke from the Olnes Pond Fire (#346) as seen from a helicopter carrying firefighers to the fire. Olnes Pond is in the bottom left of the photo. Photo by Ernest Prax/Alaska Division of Forestry

Olnes Pond Fire (#346) – Near Olnes Pond about 15 miles north of Fairbanks. Two helicopters and two engines responded to the 3-acre, lightning-caused fire burning in black spruce that was reported by several callers late Saturday afternoon. The helicopters used buckets to drop water on the fire to knock down the flames and firefighters began securing the perimeter. Six firefighters remained at the fire overnight and there was minimal growth on the fire due to the work of firefighters and precipitation on the fire. Firefighters continued securing the perimeter on Sunday and reported the fire was still smoldering and creeping. Values of concern include the trans-Alyeska Pipeline corridor and some homes within a mile of the fire.

  • McCoy Creek Fire (#335) – Approximately 15 miles east of Harding Lake and 50 miles southeast of Fairbanks. A helitack load of four firefighters, air attack, water-scooping aircraft, and six smokejumpers responded to the 3.1-acre lightning fire that was burning on a ridge in thinned black spruce. Firefighters spent Saturday night and Sunday securing the edge of the fire and searching for hotspots. The fire had low spread potential and did receive precipitation Saturday night and Sunday. A final grid of the fire will be conducted Monday before all personnel are demobilized.
  • Hayes Creek Fire (#301) – Approximately 1 mile north of the Chatanika River and 9 miles west of the Elliott Highway from Olnes Pond. The fire was reported as a one-half acre fire just before 5 p.m. Thursday. Four firefighters from Fairbanks Area Forestry and eight smokejumpers were able to contain the fire to 2.5 acres on initial attack. A hotshot crew worked the fire for hotspots on Friday and were replaced by a 10-person module late that night. The fire received heavy rain on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Fire personnel cold trailed the fire 20 feet in from the perimeter and gridded the fire 100 feet in. The fire is expected to be fully contained Monday.
  • Nugget Creek Fire (#323) – Approximately 35 miles east of Fairbanks. Several callers reported this fire Friday night in the area of 30 Mile Chena Hot Springs Road in the Chena River State Recreation Area. Air attack responded and reported a 150-acre burning in black spruce approximately 2 miles from Chena Hot Springs Road on the south side of the river. The fire plotted in a Limited protection area near the South Fork Chena River. No resources were threatened and the fire was placed in monitor status. A reconnaissance flight on Saturday reported the fire had grown to an estimated 519 acres.

Tok Area

  • Northway DOT Fire (#303) – Approximately 45 miles southeast of Tok and 9 miles southwest of Northway. This 90-acre fire was reported late Thursday afternoon by Department of Transportation personnel and several village residents in Northway. The fire was initially sized up at 2 acres and grew to 10 acres in an hour. Air attack, eight smokejumpers and water-scooping aircraft responded to keep the fire from threatening Northway and Native allotments. The fire grew to 90 acres by Friday morning but jumpers were able to secure the perimeter with the help of water drops, pumps and hose lays. No fire growth was observed overnight Saturday and the fire was smoldering in white spruce and green interior pockets. The fire received light precipitation Saturday night. On Sunday, firefighters were mopping up edges and working to secure the north of the fire.

 

 

 

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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