Upper Yukon: Type 3 Incident Management Organization Heading to Chalkyitsik

With notable fire growth in the area and high temperatures expected to continue, a Type 3 Incident Management Organization will operate out of Chalkyitsik over the next few days to evaluate fire protection needs for the community. They will monitor the three closest fires, Bearnose Hill Fire (#407), Tractor Trail 2 (#348) and Frozen Calf (#367), and put in place needed protection measures. Fire# 407 is currently staffed with crews working on structure protection. Fires #348 and #367 are burning in a Limited Management area where fire is allowed to function in its natural ecological role; these fires are not presently staffed but are being monitored.

No new fire starts were identified overnight in the Upper Yukon Fire Zone, but existing fires are expected to grow over the next several days. The potential for new fire starts remains high with the very dry fuel conditions in the Upper Yukon. As ongoing fires become more active, they will likely become increasingly challenging to manage. Fire activity is expected to remain high through most of July, and firefighting resources will be in great demand.

Twenty-one fires are burning within the Upper Yukon Fire Management Zone, which 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) – Heavy smoke is settling in on this 1,049-acre fire located in Yukon-Charley River National Preserve. The Black Hills Wildfire Module will continue to reduce vegetation and put in hoses and sprinklers around structures and other sites needing protection as they continue their assessment and monitor the fire’s progression. The module is also monitoring the Biederman Bluff Fire (#392) in case they need to protect 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) – Crews completed their protection of structures and allotments by clearing vegetation, installing sprinkler kits, and conducting burn operations. The burn operation on the south side of the fire connected with the main fire. Recent mapping estimates the fire size at 24,891 acres, an increase of approximately 4,000 acres. The fire is located approximately 54 miles east of Circle. The remaining firefighters assigned to this site, including the Emergency Firefighter K-River squad, are demobilizing today and will be reassigned to other fires in the vicinity.

Hadweenzic River Fire (#337) – Fire is active on all flanks of this 30,070-acre fire located 26 miles northeast of Beaver with group tree torching and backing. Though fire activity has increased and 70% of the fire’s perimeter is active, the spread of the fire has been slowed or stopped by natural barriers on various portions of the fire’s perimeter. Shifting winds continue to blow smoke in several directions. Multiple allotments and established camps are located within 5 miles of the fire. The public has been in the area since July 5, but the incident has so far created no direct impacts on bible camp and fish camp activities.

Chandalar River Fire (#349) – The fire remains active with flanking, backing and isolated torching. Fire growth is likely for the foreseeable future; ongoing fire behavior is likely to continue until the current weather pattern changes. Conditions are expected to be favorable for burnout operations to begin today. The Midnight Sun Interagency Hotshot Crew will attempt to burn out around two eastern allotments to protect those sites. A potential wind shift from the northeast could significantly change primary fire spread direction. Current acreage is now estimated at 2,182.

Bearnose Hill Fire (#407) – Weather conditions have contributed to a considerable increase in fire activity on Bearnose Hill. Fire behavior was classified as active to extreme yesterday, with a well-developed column and perimeter growth in all directions. However, the most growth overnight was on the south and east sides of the fire. The fire was last mapped at 2,163 acres, a figure that does not include the acreage increase overnight. This fire is burning approximately 11 miles south of Chalkyitsik between the Tiinkdhul Lake (#342) and Tractor Trail 2 (#348) fires. The Chena Hotshots, North Star Crew, and Folsom Lake Crew 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 potential burning around the allotments if conditions allow.

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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