Firefighters, aircraft continue work on Yukon Flats area fires

Work continues on numerous fires burning in the Yukon Flats. Of the 138 active fires in BLM Alaska Fire Service area that covers the northern half of the state, 34 are within the more than 51-million acre Upper Yukon Fire Management Zone that covers the eastern chunk of Alaska along the international border north of Fortymile country. This includes a cluster of five fires burning east of Chalkyitsik, of which some are staffed, and two fires on either side of Fort Yukon including the 8,200-acre Hadweenic River Fire (#337). All fires are lightning-caused fires.

Map of Yukon Flats area fires on June 25, 2019.

Map of Yukon Flats area fires on June 25, 2019. Click 6-25-19 Yukon Flats Fires for PDF version of map.

Here is a breakdown of the fires of most interest burning in the Yukon Flats and surrounding areas:

East Tiinkdhul Lake Fire (#353) –The fire is approximately 13 miles southeast of Chalkyitsik and just west of Tiinkdhul Lake. The fire is in a full suppression area and is currently .1 acres. This fire was was discovered on June 22 by two water-scooping Fire Boss aircraft as they were responding to another fire in the area. During initial attack, the two airplanes were able to drop a couple of loads of water on the fire and knock it down. No additional resources were available to respond due to multiple fires burning in the area. The fire is currently in monitor status.

Tiinkdhul Lake Fire (#342) — The original fire started on June 22 and is burning approximately 18 miles southeast of Chalkyitsik and just east of Tiinkdhul Lake. It is estimated at 5 acres. However, a 10-acre spot fire off of the main fire occurred and grew substantially Monday to 75 acres. The four smokejumpers working on this fire had the main 5-acre fire initially contained when the spot fire was discovered burning spruce trees.  With the aid of water-scooping Fire Boss airplanes, firefighters worked Monday on the spot fire that was a quarter of a mile wide and a mile long. It burned up to a pond, allowing firefighters to concentrate on the flank closest to a Native allotment, located about a mile to the north. This fire will receive additional help as firefighters finish up work on neighboring fires and are added to the effort to suppress the spot fire.

Big Hill Fire (#343) – Four smokejumpers have kept this fire to 6.5 acres. The fire that started on June 22 and is burning approximately 12 miles east of Chalkyitsik. Firefighters have put in a saw line around 60 percent of the fire and finished securing the edges. The fire area received a little precipitation Monday in order to help smokejumpers to have the entire fire mopped over the next five days. The fire was considered 75 percent contained Tuesday morning.

Riffle Fire (#341) –This 3-acre fire started on June 22 and is burning approximately 11.8 miles east of Chalkyitsik and just north of the Big Hill Fire. It was discovered 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. Fire surveillance on Monday found the perimeter to be inactive with smoldering interior in tundra. The fire is located approximately 3.3 miles from the nearest Native allotment along the Draanjik River.

Red Bluff Fire (#339) – The lightning-caused 7-acre fire started on June 22 and was reported by numerous people in the area. It 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 for initial attack and were able to knock down the fire. Additional firefighters, including emergency firefighters from Fort Yukon, were added to help on Sunday for a total of nine firefighters by Monday. They anticipate finishing up extinguishing any hot spots and moving to the neighboring Tinkdhul Lake Fire (#342) today.

Old Man Lake Fire (#354) – Four smokejumpers responded to this fire Monday after receiving reports the fire was active and possibly threatening nearby allotments. The 1/3-acre lightning-caused fire started on June 22 and is located 14 miles northeast of Fort Yukon. Firefighters were able to line the fire using pumps and hose lines and contain it. Demobilization is planned for today.

Hadweenic River Fire (#337) – On Monday, four smokejumpers arrived at a church camp located roughly 8-1/2 miles south of 8,200-acre fire burning 35 miles west of Fort Yukon. They’ll assess compound and surrounding Native allotment to set up protection measures such as clearing up brush and put in a hose and pump system to help protect the property in case the fire moves close to the camp. There are 25 people at the camp with more expected to arrive in the upcoming days. The four smokejumpers will also scout other Native allotments along the Yukon River upstream of the camp to see how what protection measures need to be put in place.

For more information, contact the Alaska Interagency Fire Information Office at (907)356-5511 or email 2019.AFS.FIRES@gmail.com.

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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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