Firefighters get assistance from Blackhawk helicopters on wildfire near Gakona

Ten firefighters spent Saturday working to set up pumps and hose around a small wildfire burning off the Tok Cutoff near Gakona while Blackhawk helicopters from the Alaska Air National Guard were brought in to drop water on the fire.

The Tulsona Creek Fire is estimated at 35 to 40 acres, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry. The fire was reported at around 1 p.m. Friday as a 2-acre fire burning in black spruce about 1 ½ miles north of Mile 14 of the Tok Cutoff. The fire plotted in a Modified suppression management area and it was determined that an aggressive response was warranted.

Two air tankers made multiple retardant drops on Friday to surround the fire with retardant. Two water-scooping aircraft and a helicopter were used to drop water on the active fire to knock it down. Eight smokejumpers and two firefighters from the Valdez/Copper River Area forestry office were deployed to take suppression action on the ground. Firefighters were able to get a preliminary control line around the fire Friday night and the fire did not spread beyond the control line.

On Saturday, two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the Alaska Air National Guard were being used for water drops to help keep the fire in check while firefighters worked to secure and strengthen the perimeter.

The Alaska Division of Forestry’s Gannett Glacier Type 2 Initial Attack Crew from Palmer will be mobilized to the fire on Sunday.

The fire is about 2 miles east from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) antenna site.

About Alaska Division of Forestry

Alaska Division of Forestry website: http://forestry.alaska.gov/ Mission: The Alaska Division of Forestry proudly serves Alaskans through forest management and wildland fire protection. The Wildland Fire and Aviation Program provides safe, cost-effective and efficient fire protection services and related fire and aviation management activities to protect human life and values on State, private and municipal lands. The wildland fire program cooperates with other wildland fire agencies on a statewide, interagency basis.

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