Fire Fighters Brace for More Hot Dry Weather

Fire managers in the Tanana Zone in Interior Alaska are bracing for continued hot, dry weather across the area. The Zone picked up an additional new fire on Wednesday to add to the 16 active fires already burning. Fire fighters are working to contain some fires and to do “point protection” of allotments, cabins and other values at risk, on others.  Personnel, aircraft and resources are coming from other regions and jurisdictions to assist.  Here is a rundown of some of the more significant fires:

Iksgiza Fire (#318) – This 17-acre fire south of Manley Hot Springs started June 21. It is burning in an old fire scar. Smokejumpers currently on the fire are working to install hose and pumps delivered via a para cargo drop Wednesday night. Their goal is to have a hose lay completely around the fire perimeter before a replacement crew is shuttled into the fire over the next few days. Fires burning in recent burn scars normally do not exhibit fire behavior that is as active as those burning in more dense vegetation.

Bearpaw Fire (#320) – This 21-acre fire had no visible smokes and was called contained on Wednesday. It started on June 21 and is burning near cabins and Native allotments, including an occupied residence, on the Kantishna River approximately 57 miles southwest of Nenana. Firefighters expect to demobilize from the fire by Sunday. Personnel on the ground will patrol extensively until then, watching during the hot dry weather for hot spots that might rekindle.

Tolovana Fire (#326) – This 17-acre lightning-caused fire started on June 21 and is burning about half a mile from a Native allotment and about 9 miles east of Minto. On Sunday, a squad of emergency firefighters from Minto and Tanana replaced seven of the smokejumpers. The fire was called contained Wednesday morning and the personnel were demobilized later the same day.

Lloyd Mountain Fire (#361) – Four smokejumpers responded Tuesday to this fire to assess and begin taking protection measures on a compound of structures and other buildings scattered throughout an area south of the fire. The closest structure is within 3 miles. The fire is burning about 3.5 miles east of the Cosna River and 14 miles south of where the Cosna flows into the Tanana River. Lloyd Mountain itself is roughly 10 miles to the west and on the opposite side of the river from the fire. This 1,800-acre fire is burning in a Limited suppression management option area. However, due to predicted high temperature and dry winds, smokejumpers were sent to the compound and have been installing protective equipment such as pumps and sprinkler systems in case the fire advances farther to the south. There were other structures reported to be in the area, firefighters are having trouble locating them. This fire was extremely active on Wednesday. A large convection column developed by 2 p.m. as the inversion lifted.  Fire personnel report that the main compound of structures now appears very defensible.  As one smokejumper put it on Wednesday evening:  “We are just waiting for the fire to come to us.”  

Alma Lakes Fire (#378) – Four smokejumpers responded to this new fire burning 44 miles east of Lake Minchumina on Tuesday. Fire managers decided to take action on this remote fire and catch it while it is small due instead of letting it grow larger with predicted hot, dry conditions. This fire was less than an acre in size. The smokejumpers were going to spend another day mopping up the fire in order to make sure all the hot spots burning deep in the tundra were dealt with.  Tundra is notorious for holding heat for long periods of time.

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