The forecast for near Red Flag conditions continues for most of the central and eastern Interior during the afternoon and evening hours through Saturday. Smoky conditions over much of the same area are expected to persist. There is very limited to no thunderstorm activity predicted through Friday; however, there is a slight chance for isolated wet thunderstorms west of Fairbanks on Saturday. Work continues on numerous fires burning in the Yukon Flats. Of the 88 active fires in the BLM Alaska Fire Service area covering the northern half of the state, 28 are within the Upper Yukon Fire Management Zone. That area covers the eastern portion of Alaska along the international border north of the Fortymile area. This includes a cluster of five fires burning east of Chalkyitsik and two fires on either side of Fort Yukon including the 7,458-acre Hadweenzic River Fire (#337). All these fires were started by lightning.
Here is a breakdown of the fires of most interest burning in the Yukon Flats and surrounding areas:
Hadweenzic River Fire (#337) – Firefighters are making significant progress preparing Native allotments and the Nashii Camp west of Fort Yukon as the fire advances on private holdings. The fire is still more than 8 miles from camp, but suppression line was constructed and a sprinkler system with pumps and hoses is set up at the camp. The fire is currently mapped at 7,458 acres, with 40% of the perimeter actively burning, primarily the west flank. Under current wind conditions, it is not directly threatening the allotments or the camp. There are 25 people at the camp with more expected to arrive in coming days. Smokejumpers are also scouting other Native allotments and cabins along the Yukon River upstream of the camp to see what protection measures, if any, need to be put in place. Six smokejumpers were demobilized yesterday with six smokejumpers and one hotshot crew remaining to complete structure protection. If smoke from the fire sets in, limiting visibility and air support, boat traffic will be the only way to ferry supplies to the crews.
Tiinkdhul Lake Fire (#342) — The fire started on June 22 and is burning approximately 18 miles southeast of Chalkyitsik and just east of Tiinkdhul Lake. The fire is holding at approximately 45 acres. Firefighters completed saw line and put in a standard hose lay around the fire perimeter. Firefighters estimate the fire is 20% contained. Fire behavior is described as minimal, creeping with isolated torching predominantly in areas of black and white spruce. Crews are checking nearby unburned areas for spot fires, but forward movement is slow going due to extremely thick vegetation. Several Native allotments are nearby with the closest one being approximately one half-mile from the perimeter. Continued fire growth is expected due to forecasted weather conditions.
Big Hill Fire (#343) – This 10-acre fire started on June 22. It is burning approximately 12 miles east of Chalkyitsik. Firefighters have put in a saw line around the fire and report that it is 85% contained. Work continues to secure the entire perimeter. Fire behavior is reported to be minimal with the fire creeping and smoldering in black spruce, birch and tundra areas. There are Native allotments and structures reported to be in the area, but they are still 2-3 miles from the fire’s edge. Expected fire growth is minimal while mop up efforts continue with a possible demobilization of crews by tomorrow evening, June 28.
Tractor Trail 2 (#348) – This 20 acre fire, some 38 miles southeast of Fort Yukon, also has an adjacent 8 acre spot fire. The Tractor Trail Fire is in a Limited Management Option area. The fire grew in size due to dry weather. Crews placed hoses and sprinklers around one allotment that is approximately 5 miles northwest of the fire’s edge. All other allotments are at least 10 to 15 miles away in several directions from the fire. Currently, two smokejumpers and a 20-man crew are cutting saw line through varied spruce around the closest allotment. A slough on the southern border of the fire is working as a natural barrier to the fire’s growth.
Christian River (#379) – A roughly estimated 60-70 acre fire near the Christian River was detected on June, 25 and is in a Full Management Option area. The fire is burning in steep, rocky terrain similar to mountainous fires in the Lower 48. An effective retardant drop assisted the 16 firefighters working on the suppression line yesterday. An additional hotshot crew is expected today.
For information on smoke particulate matter and the location and direction of smoke please visit the University of Alaska Fairbanks Wildfire Smoke Prediction for Alaska web page.
For more information, contact the Alaska Interagency Fire Information Office at (907)356-5511 or email 2019.AFS.FIRES@gmail.com.