Progress Made on Central Interior Fires

Hard work for firefighters in the Tanana Zone in Interior Alaska are paying off. The Zone only picked up one new fire on Thursday, a small, lightning-caused fire on the Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge, south of the Yukon River between Tanana and Ruby. Currently there are a total of 17 fires actively burning in the Zone.  To date, there have been 23 fires in the Zone, but a total of only slightly more than 7,000 acres burned.

A bit of slightly cooler and moister air has moved through the area, but it contained little rain.  The factors that influence fire growth and build-up potential have changed little.  More hot dry weather is expected. Fire fighters are working to contain some fires and to do “point protection” (of allotments and 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 or “visible” fires in the Zone:

Iksgiza Fire (#318) – This 17 acre fire is south of Manley Hot Springs near Iksgiza Lake, burning in an old fire scar. The smokejumpers who initially attacked the fire on June 21 have been demobilized back to Ft. Wainwright.  The fire is currently staffed by a crew of 20 firefighters.   They are working to install hose and pumps and have hose in place almost all the way around the fire.  The fire crew reports that they “have water everywhere they need it,” and that containment efforts are proceeding well.

Bearpaw Fire (#320) – This 22-acre fire had no visible smokes and was called contained at noon on Wednesday. It started on June 21 and burned near cabins and Native allotments, including an occupied residence, on the Kantishna River approximately 57 miles southwest of Nenana and 50 miles northeast of Lake Minchumina. Firefighters spent Thursday looking for any remaining hot spots. One was found Thursday night.  The 22 firefighters on the ground there are patrolling extensively, watching during the hot dry weather for hot spots that might rekindle. They are expected to demobilize from the fire by Sunday.

Lloyd Mountain Fire (#361) – Four smokejumpers initially responded to this fire on June 25 to assess and begin taking protection measures on a group of structures scattered throughout an area south of the fire. The closest structure is within 3 miles and is where fire fighters are concentrating their efforts. 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. The fire is now mapped at 2,388 acres. While the fire itself is burning in a Limited Suppression area, due to predicted high temperature and dry winds, 20 firefighters were sent to the compound and have been installing protective equipment such as pumps and sprinkler systems as the fire advances farther to the south. This fire was fairly active on Thursday>  The cloudy, smoky conditions seemed to prevent significant fire spread.  The fire was backing slowly to the south.  Slightly better visibility this morning meant that firefighters were estimating that the fire was within ¾ of a mile of their location at the main cabin.  They report that this structure appears to be defensible, so some of the forces are being diverted to other cabin sites further out but in the path of the fire.

Foraker Fire (#389) – This 136-acre fire is the first fire of the season in Denali National Park.  It was started by lightning on June 26.  It is located in the northwestern region of the park, 30 miles southeast of Lake Minchumina. With the current conditions, this fire can be expected to grow and expand, but it is nowhere near the park road and concentrations of tourists. Wildfire smoke is very evident on the road system and built up area of the park, but this is drift smoke from other fires some distance away.

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