Following days of hot, dry weather the BLM Alaska Fire Service’s Upper Yukon and Tanana Zones saw an increase in number of fires over the weekend after lightning triggered several new starts. Here is a breakdown of the fires of most interest burning in both zones:
Upper Yukon Fire Management Zone Fires:
- Eagle Fire (#355) – A new fire on the opposite side of the Yukon River from Eagle Village generated response from smokejumpers and an air tanker that dropped retardant to slow the fire’s progress burning through white spruce on a steep, rocky slope Sunday. The fire was reported by an employee at the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Park Visitor Center in Eagle. By the time smokejumpers arrived, the fire had grown to approximately 8 acres and is now estimated to be 25 acres. Park Service employees have assisted with getting smokejumpers and equipment to the fire. The air tanker dropped three loads of retardant along the ridgeline on Sunday to prevent the fire from getting into additional continuous spruce, while a helicopter dropped buckets of water to help slow the fire. Helicopter operations will continue today and a fire crew is on order.
- East Tiinkdhul Lake Fire (#353) –The fire is approximately 13 miles southeast of Chalkyitsik and just west of Tiinkdhul Lake. This fire was discovered at 8:50 p.m. on Sunday by two water-scooping Fire Boss aircraft as they were responding to another fire in the area. The two airplanes were able to drop a couple of loads of water on the fire and knock it down initially. The fire is in a full suppression area and at the time it was reported as 1 acre. There were no other resources available to respond.
- Tiinkdhul Lake Fire (#342) — Four smokejumpers are working on the 4-acre fire located approximately 18 miles southeast of Chalkyitsik and just east of Tiinkdhul Lake. It was detected by a helicopter around 5:15 p.m. on Sunday and was reported burning within a mile of a Native Allotment. The firefighters are working to secure the perimeter using chainsaws, pumps and hose. Once operations are completed, smokejumpers will place the fire in monitor status until more resources become available to complete mop up on the fire. The fire will tentatively be demobilized tomorrow.
- Big Hill Fire (#343) – Four smokejumpers kept this fire burning approximately 12 miles east of Chalkyitsik to 6.5 acres. Firefighters have put in a saw line around 60 percent of the fire and are working to finish securing the perimeter before they tentatively demobilize tomorrow.
- Riffle Fire (#341) –This 3-acre fire was spotted on Saturday approximately 11.8 miles east of Chalkyitsik and just north of the Big Hill Fire by a helicopter flying a detection route in the area. Because there were limited resources available due to other statewide fires, this fire is being monitored until resources become available or fire conditions change. The fire is burning approximately 3.3 miles from the nearest Native allotment along the Draanjik River.
- Red Bluff Fire (#339) – The 7-acre fire was reported at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday by numerous people in the areas and is burning about 8 miles east of Chalkyitsik. Due to the fire immediately threatening a nearby Native allotment, a helitack crew with four firefighters responded and were able to knock down the fire. More firefighters, including emergency firefighters from Fort Yukon, were added to help on Sunday. Firefighters considered it to be 40 percent contained on Sunday with plans demobilize Tuesday. Work on Sunday included cutting a saw line around three areas of heat, with plans to search for hot spots along the perimeter and to ensure the fire didn’t spot.
Tanana Fire Management Zone:
- Tolovana Fire (#326) – The now 17-acre fire started on Friday and is burning about half a mile from a Native allotment and a little more than 9 miles east of Minto. On Sunday, a squad of emergency firefighters from Minto and Tanana replaced seven of the smokejumpers and personnel are working to grid the fire to look for hot spots and mop up. Demobilization will tentatively happen early this week.
- Bearpaw Fire (#320) – The 21-acre fire started on Friday and is burning near cabins and Native allotments, including an occupied residence, on the Kantishna River approximately 54 miles northwest of Healy. The seven smokejumpers on the ground anticipate an extensive job of mopping up the fire due to piles of jack-strawed trees. The fire received light precipitation. Firefighters made progress laying hose around the fire and have the first 10-15 feet inside perimeter mopped up. However, the interior is still holding a lot of heat. A 20-person Type 1 Interagency Hotshot Crew will replace the smokejumpers on Tuesday after they arrive from the Lower 48.
- Big Creek Fire (#366) – Four smokejumpers responded to a 3-acre fire burning 13.5 miles southeast of Ruby on Sunday. The fire is burning in a 2015 fire perimeter with dead and down spruce trees. Firefighters have made good progress and have established pumps and hose to help secure the perimeter.