Lightning delivers another round of fires in northwestern Alaska

Fire season has ebbed and flowed in Western Alaska with lightning delivering another round of fires in the past few days. Lightning ignited 11 new fires in three days within the BLM Alaska Fire Service Galena Zone had that encompasses more than 93 million acres in the northwestern section of Alaska. Of which, three were staffed while the rest are being monitored.

Map of lightning and fires in Northwest Alaska. The purple and red arrows are lightning strikes in the last 36 hours. The fire numbers in the 500 and above range are new starts.

Map of lightning and fires in Northwest Alaska. The purple and red arrows are lightning strikes in the last 36 hours. The fire numbers in the 500 and above range are new starts. Click 7_14_19_NWlightning_fires_map for PDF version of map.

As of today, the Galena Zone has had 61 fires that have burned an estimated 112,606 acres this year. The recent fires of interest are:

Nayuka River Fire (#547) – 100 acres, 8 smokejumpers

The fire was reported Saturday by firefighting personnel aboard an airplane on its way to another fire. It was initially reported as 5 acres and burning in tundra and black spruce. Eight smokejumpers responded and divided the workload evenly on the northern and southern sections of the fire. Two water-scooping Fire Boss airplanes were called in to aid the efforts to suppress this fire burning in the Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge 14 miles east of Huslia. Two water-dropping aircraft were busy on the fire Sunday trying to keep the fire behavior down while smokejumpers worked to get a line around it. Two more crews will be added to the battle including the Yukon-Koyukuk Type 2 Emergency Firefighter Crew.

Mauneluk River Fire (#535) – 1,000 acres, 8 smokejumpers

This fire is burning at the confluence of the Pah and Kobuk rivers about 30 miles southeast of Ambler and 15 miles from Kobuk. It was spotted by someone from Shugnak at about 7:30 p.m. on Friday. The fire is burning in thick black spruce and tundra. Because numerous Native allotments and cabins were threatened, eight smokejumpers and two water-scooping Fire Boss airplanes were deployed. The smokejumpers broke into two groups to cover multiple cabins sites. The fire was reported as crowning and torching. The BLM Alaska Fire Service Midnight Sun Hotshots will to join the effort to place structure protection measures around the cabins along the Kobuk and Mauneluk rivers.

Woodyard Fire (#512) – 4.4 acres, 8 smokejumpers

This fire was spotted by an AFS surveillance aircraft on Thursday. The fire was initially 100 percent active and displayed a variety of fire behavior including running, and spotting. Eight smokejumpers, two helicopters and four Fire Boss water scoopers quickly took action and managed to knock the fire down on the most active corner to the northeast corner. The fire was reported contained at 4.4 acres on Friday. Four smokejumpers remained on the fire to ensure the fire was out by Sunday. Afterwards, it was added to the list of monitored fires.

For more information, call the Alaska Interagency Fire Information Office at (907)356-5511 or email to 2019.afs.fires@gmail.com.

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About BLM Alaska Fire Service

The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (AFS) located at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, provides wildland fire suppression services for over 244 million acres of Department of the Interior and Native Corporation Lands in Alaska. In addition, AFS has other statewide responsibilities that include: interpretation of fire management policy; oversight of the BLM Alaska Aviation program; fuels management projects; and operating and maintaining advanced communication and computer systems such as the Alaska Lightning Detection System. AFS also maintains a National Incident Support Cache with a $10 million inventory. The Alaska Fire Service provides wildland fire suppression services for America’s “Last Frontier” on an interagency basis with the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources, USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Military in Alaska.

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