Upper Yukon: Hotter, Drier Weather is Here to Stay for a While

With continued high temperatures and very dry fuels, the Upper Yukon is likely to see new fire starts and significant growth on existing fires for the next several days. As ongoing fires become more active, they will likely be increasingly challenging to manage. Fire activity is expected to remain high through most of July and firefighting resources will be in great demand. 

There are 23 fires burning within the Upper Yukon Fire Management Zone that covers the eastern Interior. Here is a breakdown of the fires of most interest burning in the Yukon Flats and surrounding areas:

Yukon Charley Fire (#217) – This 1,049-acre fire is located in Yukon-Charley River National Preserve. The fire was first reported on June 10. The fire is burning in an area of Limited Management, where fire is allowed to function in its natural ecological role. However, given the fire behavior, fuel conditions and an allotment in the area, resources have been assigned to the incident. The Black Hills Wildfire Module arrived yesterday to reduce vegetation around the allotment and put in hoses and sprinklers around the allotment boundary. Other priorities for the module include monitoring data from the fire in order to support National Park Service fire ecology research. The module will also monitor the Biederman Bluff Fire (#392) should they need to move in to provide structure protection on the Kandik River Public Use Cabin upriver from the fire. Prior fuels treatment performed by the National Park Service will aid significantly in efforts to protect the area. 

Black River Fire (#262) – Firefighters completed a burnout operation for a cabin and allotment directly south of the fire. The burnout made contact with the southern extent of the main fire. Mop up work is ongoing in this area today. Crews continue work on structure protection efforts in the vicinity, with clearing, sprinkler kits, and burn operations. The fire is currently estimated at 24,891 acres and is located approximately 54 miles east of Circle. In recent days the fire has had little perimeter growth. Some of the firefighters from this site are beginning to transition to other high priority fires in the area. 

Hadweenzic River Fire (#337) – Fire activity is picking up on this 27,161-acre fire burning 35 miles west of Fort Yukon. Wind-driven runs, isolated torching and backing fire are keeping the firefighters heavily engaged. Shifting winds are blowing smoke in several directions. Continued fire perimeter growth and increased fire activity from afternoon into late evening is expected on all flanks of the fire. Multiple occupied structures and allotments are located to the west and southwest of this incident. 

Chandalar River Fire (#349) – Firefighters saw a large burst in fire activity with a wind-driven run to the east, active backing to the west, and isolated torching due to hot, dry and windy conditions throughout the area. Two water-scooping aircraft and an additional aircraft to coordinate suppression efforts arrive today to help protect the surrounding allotment on the west side of the fire about 4 miles away. Current acreage is now estimated at 2,182.

Eagle Fire (#355) – Firefighters called this fire controlled and out at 8 am today. Both the Diamond Mountain and Tahoe Hotshot Crews will head back to Fairbanks today and tomorrow for reassignment to the Shovel Creek Fire (# 319) located northwest of Fairbanks. Remaining supplies from the Eagle Fire (#355) will be relocated to the Yukon Charley Fire (#217).

Bearnose Hill Fire (#407) – Weather conditions have contributed to increased fire activity on Bearnonse Hill, with crown fires and 50-foot flame lengths observed. This 1,744-acre fire is burning approximately 11 miles south of Chalkyitsik between the Tiinkdhul Lake (#342) and Tractor Trail 2 (#348) fires.  Fire activity has increased in the interior area of the fire, with little perimeter growth in recent days. Today the Chena Hotshot Crew and Folsom Lake Crew will join the 38 firefighters already assigned to this area.  They will continue work to protect allotments surrounding a lake approximately 4 miles south of Chalkyitsik. They are working on cutting vegetation around allotments and cabins and setting up hoses to prepare for burning around the allotments.

Sources of information on smoke are located 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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