Tanana Zone fires hide in their own smoke

Many of the fires burning in the Tanana Zone were hidden in smoke, causing veteran firefighters near the fires to rely on satellite imagery to provide essential information such as the distance the head of the fire had moved, or what part of the fire was most active.  The heavy smoke prevented use of aircraft on several fires. Satellite sensors, however, were able to detect more than 20,000 lightning strikes throughout the state. Despite light rain on some fires, a Red Flag Warning remains in effect today for dry lightning in the region. The newest staffed fire on the Tanana Zone was moving south toward the Rampart landing strip on Thursday, one of many to be pushed southward by the northeasterly air flow.

The fire near Rampart and three others are described below:

Grouse Creek (#485)) Fire – 2000 acres – 16 firefighters

The Grouse Creek Fire, reported on July 10th about 6 miles east of Rampart within an oxbow of the Yukon River, has grown to 2000 acres. Eight smokejumpers who had been protecting cabins north of the fire were boated downriver by local residents on Thursday when the fire began making a run south toward the Rampart airstrip. The jumpers delivered by boat joined another load of jumpers near the airstrip and began planning their defense of the buildings in Rampart. An estimated 63 Alaskans are staying in the Rampart vicinity for their summer fishing season. The Prineville Hotshots have been rerouted to Rampart and should arrive today. This morning, the fire is three miles from the nearest structure. Strong winds from the southwest are keeping the fire away from the community today, and the rising relative humidity has helped to moderate fire behavior. Firefighters on site are developing plans for public safety and structure protection plan.

Bergman Creek Fire (#312) – 42,000 acres – 19 firefighters

The Bergman Creek Fire is 28 miles southwest of Allakaket. The south side of the fire was active Wednesday night, but Thursday’s fire activity was not observable due to extremely limited visibility. Smokejumpers are preparing allotments near the historical Arctic City site to be more easily defensible in the event fire reaches them. An active thunderstorm delivered multiple lightning strikes just north of the fire around midnight, but no rain has fallen on the fire area as of this morning.

Lloyd Mountain Fire (#361) – 19,377 acres – 20 firefighters

The Lloyd Mountain Fire, ignited by lightning on June 23rd, is located along the Cosna River about 14 miles south of its confluence with the Tanana River. The fire was backing slowly to the north on Wednesday, and greater than a mile away from the nearest cabin. Winds were from the west, and some fire spread was also observed toward the east. Firefighters reported a light rain this morning.

Foraker Fire (#389) – 45,000 acres, 5 firefighters

The Foraker Fire is burning 22 miles west of Kantishna in Denali National Park. Fire behavior was reported to be active on the east side of the fire Thursday; but high winds and smoke limited aerial reconnaissance on the fire, so firefighters were not able to map the fire perimeter.  The fire was being pushed toward the cabin in Slippery Creek by strong winds, but firefighters were able to start prepositioned sprinklers on the Slippery Creek cabin when the fire was within an estimated two miles. They also activated sprinklers on the Birch Creek Cabin. Flights within the next few days will determine if either cabin was damaged by fire. Firefighters reported light rain on the fire this morning, along with dense smoke.

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