Higher Temperatures Expected to Bring Dangerous Wildfire Conditions

While the Upper Yukon Fire Zone has had cooler temperatures in recent days, weather patterns are expected to return to hotter and drier conditions for the rest of the week. As temperatures rise, the Upper Yukon will likely see dangerous wildfire conditions. With many active fires in the area and more new ignitions expected, firefighting resources will be in demand through most of July. Smoke is expected to become more prevalent in the Upper Yukon Fire Zone by today. Winds are forecast to carry smoke to the north and east.

There are 27 fires burning within the Upper Yukon Fire Management Zone that covers the eastern Interior, with one new start in this zone in the last 24 hours. Here is a breakdown of the fires of most interest burning in the Yukon Flats and surrounding areas:

Black River Fire (#262) – Firefighters continue to make good progress on structure protection in the vicinity of the Black River Fire. The fire has grown to 22,651 acres, with hot spots throughout the interior and on the east end. Little rain fell in this area, with dry conditions persisting. High winds are forecast for Wednesday, potentially pushing the fire to the south.

Hadweenzic River Fire (#337) – The fire has grown to 20,874 acres in recent days and is 60 percent contained. Firefighters have continued structure protection efforts on allotments in the fire area.  They are waiting for favorable weather conditions to begin burning out around several allotments. Fluctuating water levels in local waterways is making boat travel difficult for firefighters, at times.

Tiinkdhul Lake Fire (#342) – Crews continue searching for remaining hot spots on the interior of the fire where high intensity heat created large, deep ash pits. Burned roots are causing black spruce trees to topple, creating heavily jackstrawed areas. This 45-acre fire was declared fully contained on June 30. It is located approximately 18 miles southeast of Chalkyitsik and just east of Tiinkdhul Lake.

Tractor Trail 2 Fire (#348) – This fire is approximately 38 miles southeast of Fort Yukon. The hot, windy weather over the weekend caused large increases in fire spread, with continued tree torching throughout the day. The fire size has grown substantially this week, increasing from an estimated at 2,289 acres to 8,779 acres. Crews continue clearing perimeters of allotments and removing vegetation around cabins in the area.

Chandalar River Fire (#349) – Due to a recent reconnaissance flight, this fire is now estimated at a little over 75 acres. Firefighters are working on protection for multiple allotments and trying to keep the fire from spotting over the Chandalar River. The Midnight Sun Hotshot crew arrived yesterday and is preparing for burnout operations when conditions are favorable. They will also be assessing other protection sites north and east of the fire. Crews are using natural barriers whenever possible to help secure the allotments.  Heavy, falling snags remain a safety concern on the incident.

Eagle Fire (#355) – This lightning-caused fire started June 23 and is estimated at 45.5 acres. Firefighters estimate 80% containment.  Hose and water have been put in around the entire perimeter. There is still considerable heat on the fire’s right flank as the fire burns into deep, heavy fuels. Firefighters are searching for hot spots on the left flank of the fire. Steep and rugged terrain and heavy snags present a significant safety concern for the firefighters. Forty-seven firefighters are assigned to this fire.

Christian River Fire (#379) – Folsom Lake and Sawtooth smokejumpers are still battling this 180-acre fire near the Christian River that was detected on June 25. Crews continued with mop up operations and were able to push in a little further today. Firefighters estimate that containment is at 60% and are fairly confident that they will reach 100% containment by the end of this week.

Bearnose Hill Fire (#407) – This fire has grown in size to 1,500 acres. The fire was discovered late afternoon on June 29, approximately 11 miles from Chalkyitsik, between the Tiinkdhul Lake (#342) and Tractor Trail 2 (#348) fires. Crews were dispatched on Tuesday afternoon to work on structure protection in the vicinity of the fire. They are currently working on several allotments surrounding a lake approximately 4 miles south of Chalkyitsik.

Tettjajik Creek Fire (#424) – Air support performed reconnaissance and reported this fire to be approximately 100 acres, 40% active with low rates of spread, creeping, smoldering with single tree torching in spruce and hardwoods. This fire is in a Limited Management Option area where no resources are threatened and fire is allowed to function in its natural ecological role. The fire has been placed in monitor status.

Sources of information on smoke can be found on the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center Air Quality web page.

 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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