Upper Yukon Fire Zone Has Varied Activity

More than 20,000 lightning strikes across Alaska on Thursday

Much of Alaska remains under a Red Flag Warning today that is projected to continue through Friday evening. Some precipitation has been received south of the White Mountains, but not enough to extinguish fires. Fuels in the northern part of the Upper Yukon Zone are extremely dry. One new fire was documented in the Upper Yukon Zone.

Fire Meteorologists are predicting a high level of dry lightning and stronger, more erratic winds. Temperatures are have decreased a few degrees and this will continue over the next several days, but still remain above normal. Winds should switch over to a SW direction by the weekend. Some light showers are projected, but wetting rains are not foreseen. 

More overhead teams and crews have been ordered in anticipation of increased Initial Attack and the possibility of new larger fires. Twenty-eight fires are burning within the Upper Yukon Fire Management Zone, but most are not threatening people or property. Seven of the fires are staffed with firefighters, who continue to focus on village safety,  prepare firelines and lay hose near cabins and allotments. Here is a summary of some of the more significant fires burning in the Yukon Flats and surrounding areas:

Chalkyitsik Complex – (#466, formerly #367, #407 and #348)–146,334 acres, 156 firefighters

Two new Type 2 Initial Attack hand crews have joined firefighters already assigned to the Frozen Calf Fire (#367) and the Bearnose Hill Fire (#407) burning near the village of Chalkyitsik, about 50 miles east of Fort Yukon. The Frozen Calf Fire is across the Draanjik River (formerly the Black River) and about 16 miles northeast of Chalkyitsik. The Bearnose Fire is approximately four miles south of the village. An Alaskan Type 2 Incident Management Team has assumed command of the Chalkyitsik Complex that will also include the Tractor Trail 2 Fire (#348) and the Tettjajik Creek Fire (#424). Smoke cleared on Thursday allowing for delivery of food, water, tactical firefighting equipment and the insertion of the two additional crews. There are four hand crews, two smaller firefighting modules, a drone group and additional overhead personnel now working in or near Chalkyitsik. Firefighters are assessing the community for structure protection, clearing vegetation in and around the community, setting up hose lays and sprinkler systems and cutting indirect saw lines to protect the community of 57 residents. Allotments with structures along the Black River are also being prepared as the Bearnose and Frozen Calf fires grow toward the community and the river corridor.

Temporary Flight Restrictions are in place over the Chalkyitsik Complex to provide a safe environment for fire fighting aircraft operations.  

Yukon Charley Fire (#217) 1,637 acres  and Biederman Bluff Fire (#392) – 1,834 acres, 8 firefighters

The Yukon Charley and Biederman Bluff fires are burning on opposite sides of the Yukon River approximately 55 miles northwest of Eagle, Alaska. Both fires received about one tenth of an inch of rain overnight.  Today firefighters will continue to improve lines already established. Firefighters Thursday from the Yukon Charley Fire crossed the Yukon River to work on the Biederman Bluff Fire. A public use cabin was prepped for structure protection. Hose lays were plumbed around the cabin in the event they may be needed later.  It was a smokey day on both sides of the river, along with some light sprinkles. No fire activity was observed on either fire. Fire crews are being transported by boat when poor visibility due to smoke prevents flying.

Hadweenzic River Fire (#337) –  34,844 acres, 30 firefighters

The Hadweenzic River Fire is burning approximately 23 miles west of Fort Yukon. Favorable conditions on the ground combined with great visibility allowed firefighters to make significant progress on protection of structures and the bible camp, as well as mapping the fire perimeter. A communications antenna was established yesterday that helps communications between crew members, a vital component to keeping firefighters safe while in remote locations. A radio repeater will be added tody that allows crews from the Hadweenzik and Tony Slough fires to be in direct communication as strategies and tactics are coordinated between the two fires. 

Tony Slough Fire (#493) – 300 acres, 8 firefighters and Hadweenzek Fire (#337)

The Tony Slough Fire is burning approximately 8 miles northeast of the village of Beaver. This fire was first reported Thursday morning with initial acreage estimated at 300 acres. Crews on the ground are confirming the number of structures and developing protection strategies today. Due to the close proximity with the Hadweenzek Fire #337, management of the two fires will be combined in order to make the best use of personnel and equipment.

Chandalar River Fire (#349) – 9,108 acres, 91 firefighters

The Chandalar River Fire is burning approximately five miles southwest of Venetie. Several new crews arrived yesterday. The day was spent gaining situational awareness of the area. A five-mile burning operation that was planned to protect five Native allotments was rescheduled due to fuels being to wet to have a successful operation. The fire is currently one mile south of those allotments. The fire had blue skies over their area yesterday, but current conditions today is cloudy with smoke. The fire was last mapped on July 10 at 9,108 acres.

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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