Continued Hot, Dry Weather Means High Activity for Tanana Zone Fires

Continued hot, dry weather and smoky conditions can be expected across Interior Alaska again today, including the Tanana Zone. No new fires were reported in the Tanana Zone yesterday, but 15 active fires continue to burn, and many showed growth Saturday. To date, 35 fires have burned a total of 23,106 acres in the zone.

While the heavy smoke now blanketing Interior Alaska causes difficulties for residents and visitors, it can sometimes help firefighters by obscuring the sun and inhibiting solar heating, thus reducing radiant heat and moderating fire behavior. However, indices used to predict fire behavior remain in the very high to extreme range, making firefighting efforts very difficult. A forecast for cooler temperatures and rain later today is expected to provide at best only a short reprieve from the challenging conditions faced by firefighters.

Here is a rundown of some of the more significant or visible fires in the Tanana Zone:

Iksgiza Fire (#318) – Twenty firefighters continue to work on this 17-acre fire near Iksgiza Lake. The fire is south of the Tanana River, 20 miles southeast of Manley Hot Springs. Firefighters have achieved 50% containment but stress that the fire has not advanced for several days. Minimal fire behavior has occurred along the fire’s perimeter in recent days. The fire is burning in the imprint of a previous fire, reducing the amount of fuel available to burn. However, the fire is burning deep into the ground due to the hot, dry conditions; firefighter will need to conduct an extended mop-up operation before it can be called “out.”

Bearpaw Fire (#320) – All firefighters have been demobilized off this fire. Monitoring from the air will continue until fire managers are confident the fire will not rekindle. This is the last time this fire will be included in this update. 

Lloyd Mountain Fire (#361) – This fire is located approximately 14 miles south of the mouth of the Cosna River. It showed significant fire behavior and movement Saturday and is now mapped at 7,101 acres. An impressive convection column developed over the fire around 6:30 p.m. The fire’s movement has been primarily to the south and to the west. Management of  this fire stresses “point protection,” meaning that firefighters are tasked with protecting cabins and other structures in the fire’s path. The closest structures, currently less than a mile from the fire’s edge, are where firefighters are concentrating their efforts, utilizing pumps and sprinkler systems as the fire approaches. Additional smokejumpers deployed Saturday to help with the structure defense operations already in place.

Foraker Fire (#389) – Five firefighters are working on site preparation for protection of several structures near this fire in Denali National Park and Preserve. The fire is in a Limited Suppression area, 22 miles southeast of Kantishna.  Active fire behavior resulted in some movement and fire growth but no spectacular runs Saturday.  The fire is now estimated at 5,144 acres. Late Saturday, firefighters reported that the fire was still 3 to 4 miles from the Slippery Creek cabin, east of the main fire. Site preparation work continues around the cabin sites today.        

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