Smoke Blankets Upper Yukon Fire Zone

The Upper Yukon continues to experience above normal fire conditions and resources to respond to new fires are stretched thin. One new fire was reported. The Mich Fire (#452) is in Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. The fire is smoldering in an old burn scar in a Limited Management area, where fire is allowed to function in its natural ecological role. This fire is unstaffed but will be monitored.

Twenty-two 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) – The Black Hills Wildfire Module continues to monitor the fire’s progression. They are steadily working to identify when to initiate the developed protection plans for allotments and structures in the area. A helispot has been constructed for any potential medevac needs and supply delivery. As smoke continues to settle in, visibility may become an issue creating difficulties for air support and reconnaissance operations. The fire is estimated at 1,049 acres.

Black River Fire (#262) – Dense smoke interfered with demobilization flights for the remaining firefighters assigned to this fire. Shading from the smoke also brought cooler temperatures and less growth in the fire perimeter. Recent mapping puts the fire size at 32,659 acres, an increase of 3,768 acres since the last mapping on July 6. The fire is located about 54 miles east of Circle. 

Hadweenzic River Fire (#337) – Smoke and haze has settled in over this 30,070-acre fire located 26 miles northeast of Beaver. Fire behavior was reported as active throughout most of the perimeter; however, the fire’s spread was limited due to hardwood stands, pervious burns, low-lying wet areas and some natural barriers. Visibility for aircraft continues to be a limiting factor in fire reconnaissance and re-supply operations. Crews completed a helispot near an allotments north of the fire.

Chandalar River Fire (#349) – Firefighters worked hard to improve protection around the nearest allotments on this 2,182-acre fire. Northerly winds kept the north side of the fire clear of smoke which provided good visibility around the allotments and the community of Venetie. The fire was active most of the day yesterday with periods of extreme fire behavior in the afternoon and evening. Primary fire spread was to the south and southwest. Crews had hoped to burn out around the allotments yesterday; however, they took an extra day to make needed improvements on the line. If favorable weather conditions persist, burn operations will happen today. 

Bearnose Hill Fire (#407) – Eighty-one firefighters, including the Chena Hotshots, North Star Crew, and Folsom Lake Crew, are assigned to work on structure protection near a lake approximately 4 miles south of Chalkyitsik. They are cutting vegetation around allotments and cabins, and setting up hoses to prepare for potential burning around the allotments if conditions allow. The fire spread has shifted to the north and west, but is still approximately 4 miles southeast of the lake, and approximately 11 miles south of Chalkyitsik. The size of the fire is now estimated at 21,272 acres, an increase of 19,109 acres since it was last mapped on July 6. Yesterday’s heavy smoke moderated fire behavior throughout much of the day. However, a dominant plume was seen again last night as skies cleared. Fuel conditions remain extremely dry, promoting rapid fire growth and extreme fire behavior.

Multiple 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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