Fire moderates in Upper Yukon Zone; no red flag warnings for Saturday

 

Isolated to widespread thunderstorms with rain are forecasted today. Fewer new fires result from wet thunderstorms than dry lightning. Relative humidity for the zone will be in the 35-40% range. Winds will be from the southwest at 5-10 mph. Fires south of the White Mountains will receive more precipitation than those north.

Twenty-seven fires are burning within the Upper Yukon Fire Management Zone, but most are not threatening people or property. Six 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, #348 and #424) – 146,334 acres, 156 firefighters

Photo of smoke rising from the Frozen Calf Fire on July 11, 2019.

Smoke rises from the Frozen Calf Fire (#367) on Thursday evening, July 11, 2019. This view is looking northeast from the bluff near the Chalkyitsik school. Phil Perkins/Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team

The Chalkyitsik Complex is comprised of four fires burning near the village of Chalkyitsik. Three of the four fires of the Chalkyitsik Complex were active Friday, while the Tettjajik Creek Fire (#424) showed little growth. A dozer line is complete around the village of Chalkyitsik. Starting at the Draanjik River (formerly the Black River) west of the village, the line heads south to the far end of the runway. From there, it is cut to the east using the second, old river oxbow further on past the village as a natural barrier. An indirect saw line has been cut and plumbed with hose lays on the north side of the Draanjik River, connecting lakes, sloughs and other natural features. This fuel break provides protection from the Frozen Calf Fire (#367) as it continues to approach from the northeast, now about 12 miles away. Firefighters have set up and tested sprinkler systems throughout the village, and continue to improve the control lines. If one of the wildfires approaches the village, a plan is in place to move the 57 residents into designated safe zones. The elders will be alerted and moved first as notification is sent to the rest of the community. Everyone, residents and firefighters, know to gather and be counted.

Map of Upper Yukon Fire Management Zone area fires on July 13, 2019.

Map of Upper Yukon Fire Management Zone area fires on July 13, 2019. Click on 7-13-19 Upper Yukon Zone fires for PDF version of map.

Firefighters have completed their work around the improved allotment on the southeast corner of Ohtig Lake. The structure is prepped with pumps, hose lays and sprinklers. Crews are prepared to light a burnout from the fuel break as the fire approaches. The Bearnose Hills Fire (#407) is a little over a mile away and continues to grow. 

Nine improved allotments along the Draanjik River corridor also have been brushed and plumbed, and three more remain to be completed. Both the Bearnose and Frozen Calf fires are approaching the river.

Tractor Trail 2 Fire (#348) is being monitored as it continues to spread north toward the Little Black River.

A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in place over Chalkyitsik and some of the surrounding area to provide a safe operating environment for firefighting aircraft. Go to https://tfr.faa.gov for more information on the TFR.

Yukon Charley Fire (#217) – 1,637 acres 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 three quarters of an inch of rain on Thursday and Friday. Showers continued last night, and a 40% chance of rain is forecast for today. Crews lit a pile of downed spruce that had been cut for allotment protection during the 2015 fire year. Fire crews had scheduled to burn the pile later, but took advantage of the light rain and the hoses and plumbing in place to accomplish that task now. Firefighters continue to watch for advancements on both fires. Since operationally all allotments and cabins have been lined and have hose plumbed for future needs, the crews are preparing to be reassigned to another fire, until conditions dictate their return.

Hadweenzic River Fire (#337) – 39,029 acres, 30 firefighters

The Hadweenzic River Fire is burning approximately 23 miles west of Fort Yukon. Smoky conditions prevented helicopter crews and communications technicians from installing a communications repeater yesterday. They will install it when conditions are more favorable. While the fire area did not receive any of the precipitation that fell across other areas, the weather was cooler yesterday which increased relative humidity that reduced fire spread on the east side to about 3/4 mile. Temperatures are trending warmer today. Crews worked on assessing structures at the Bible camp and developing protection strategies needed if the fire progresses further.

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

The fire is burning about eight miles northeast of Beaver. The crews laid hose lines and installed sprinklers to protect allotments. Fire behavior on the west side of the fire was minimal for the most part, which allowed crews to enhance helispot areas. Additional crews are expected to arrive in the next few days as the fire currently exhibits slow but steady growth. Once solid communications are established, crews from the Tony Slough Fire and the Hadweenzic River Fire will join forces to achieve fire management objectives for the area.

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

The Chandalar River Fire is burning approximately five miles southwest of Venetie. Crews yesterday constructed another helispot west of the allotments being protected. Clouds covered the area most of the day and winds diminished by noon. Today visibility is three quarters of a mile, due to a low smoke ceiling. A five-mile burning operation to protect Native allotments is planned for early next week if fuels have dried sufficiently to carry fire. The fire is currently one mile south of those allotments. The eastern edge of the fire is slowly creeping to the northeast. A reconnaissance flight is requested for today. 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. 

7-13-19 UYD Update FINAL

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