Fire behavior remains active in Upper Yukon Zone

Four thousand lightning strikes were recorded in the last 24 hours in the Upper Yukon Zone, spread out widely over the region. Chalkyitsik was in a three way tie for high temperatures in the state at 83 degrees. Today’s high will approach 85 degrees, with low relative humidity around 30%. Wind is forecasted to be out of the west at 10-15 mph, with some spotty precipitation. Lightning should be less common than yesterday, and when strikes occur, they will be in conjunction with moisture.

A bell 205 helicopter lands to pick up waiting members of the Chief Mountain Hotshot Crew at the Chalkyitsik helibase Sunday, July 14, 2019. The crew was being transported to the Chahalie Lake area near the Frozen Calf Fire (#367). The crew from Montana completed an assignment on the Shovel Creek Fire (#319), returned home for two days off and are now back in Alaska. Sam Harrel/Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team
A bell 205 helicopter lands to pick up waiting members of the Chief Mountain Hotshot Crew at the Chalkyitsik helibase Sunday, July 14, 2019. The crew was being transported to the Chahalie Lake area near the Frozen Calf Fire (#367). The crew from Montana completed an assignment on the Shovel Creek Fire (#319), returned home for two days off and are now back in Alaska. Sam Harrel/Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team

Thirty fires are burning within the Upper Yukon Fire Management Zone; most are not threatening people or property. Eight of the fires are staffed with firefighters, who continue to focus on village safety. Firelines are built, sprinklers are set up around cabins and there is line and hose lays around allotments.

Here is a summary of some of the more significant fires burning in the Yukon Flats and surrounding areas:

Chalkyitsik Complex – #466 (Tractor Trail 2 #348, Frozen Calf Fire #367, Bearnose Hill Fire #407, and Tettjajik Creek #424) Total 267,773 acres -250 personnel are assigned to the complex

Smoke rolls off the Bearnose Hill Fire (#407) along its northwestern flank Sunday afternoon, July 14, 2019. The Bearnose Hill Fire is one of four fires that make up the Chalkyitsik Complex located about 50 miles east of Fort Yukon. Karen Scholl/Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team
Smoke rolls off the Bearnose Hill Fire (#407) along its northwestern flank Sunday afternoon, July 14, 2019. The Bearnose Hill Fire is one of four fires that make up the Chalkyitsik Complex located about 50 miles east of Fort Yukon. Karen Scholl/Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team

Another hot and dry day with prevailing southwest winds resulted in very active fire behavior Sunday on the Frozen Calf Fire (#367), Bearnose Hill Fire (#407) and Tractor Trail 2 Fire (#348). The active portion of the Frozen Calf Fire was on its west end as it backed into the wind and burned interior pockets of fuel. The fire showed new growth to the northwest, south and southwest. The Bearnose Hill Fire was active on all sides with its most significant growth toward Tiinkdhul Lake on the east side of the fire. The Tractor Trail 2 Fire was active along the majority of the north flank with rapid rates of spread toward the Little Black River corridor.

Crews in Chalkyitsik improved and reinforced indirect dozer lines recently established in preparation for firing operations. Point protection measures within the village are finalized. Work started on an indirect dozer line extending south from Chalkyitsik to Ohtig Lake that would protect the village from the Bearnose Hill Fire that is 7 miles to the southeast.

7/15/19 fire map of the Chalkyitsik Complex buring in the Upper Yukon Zone. There are four fires burning as part of the overall complex. Map show red outlines of each individual fire.
7/15/19 fire map of the Chalkyitsik Complex buring in the Upper Yukon Zone

Six miles to the northeast of Chalkyitsik, crews began work to tie natural barriers together with fire line in order to create an additional indirect line between Chalkyitsik and the Frozen Calf Fire, 10 miles northeast of the village. This same indirect line will also protect several remote cabins and allotments in the Draanjik River corridor (formerly Black River). As point protection work is accomplished on the 15 allotments along the Draanjik, firefighters are being moved to Herbert Village on the Porcupine River. They will implement point protection in the village that is on the opposite side of the river and 6.5 miles away from the Frozen Calf Fire.

Two hand crews and a helitack crew arrived in Chalkyitsik on Sunday. Chief Mountain Hotshot crew of Montana, North Dakota Type 2 Initial Attack Crew and Chester Helitack from California will be integrated into the operation to replace crews that are timing out.

Tettjajik Creek Fire (#424) showed little activity on Sunday.

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.

Hadweenzic River Fire (#337) – 46,034 acres, 40 firefighters

7/15/19  fire map of the Upper Yukon Zone
 7/15/19  fire map of the Upper Yukon Zone. For a pdf of the map, click here

The Hadweenzic River Fire is burning approximately 6 1/2 miles northeast from Nahshii Bible camp and 23 miles west of Fort Yukon. Burning primarily in black spruce, active fire behavior was observed moving east Saturday afternoon, showing steady growth.This placed the fire about 2 miles from the nearest allotment. A reconnaissance flight Saturday provided additional topographical knowledge and an accurate fire perimeter. A staging area will be established at the village of Beaver today to provide resources and support for fire #337 and #493, with additional crews expected to arrive throughout the day.

Tony Slough Fire (#493) – 690 acres, 9 firefighters

Fire growth was observed yesterday to the north, as warm and dry temperatures with light winds persisted across the terrain. Black spruce continues to drive fire growth. The Hadweenzic and Tony Slough fires (#337 & #493) will be supported by the same Management team, logistical resources, firefighting crews, aerial support, and marine transportation to meet regional objectives. Providing protection to structures and the village of Beaver remains the top priority. The fire is burning about eight miles northeast of the village of Beaver.

Chandalar River Fire (#349) – 9,108 acres, 69 firefighters

The Chandalar River Fire is burning approximately five miles southwest of Venetie. The northwest corner of the fire advanced approximately one quarter mile yesterday. There was moderate fire behavior. The fire is now one and one quarter mile south of the allotment to the east. Crews thinned fuels an additional 20 feet to increase the protection buffer. The four allotments have been divided into 2 divisions, west and east, with a small pond between them. An additional crew has been ordered; each division will be staffed with a crew. The fire produced a large column of black smoke from the interior and western finger on Sunday. Winds were out of the southwest yesterday until around 1500. An approaching cloud cell changed the winds to northeasterly and produced hard but short lived precipitation north of the allotments. Accumulation was estimated at one tenth of an inch. The cell also produced significant lightning around the Venetie area. Fire managers continue to plan a five-mile burn operation to protect Native allotments when the wind and sun sufficiently dry fuels. Today firefighters will continue to improve already established lines, and watch for any lightning holdovers. The fire was last mapped on July 10 at 9,108 acres.

Myrtle Creek Fire (#588) – 3 acres, 4 firefighter, Slate Creek Fire (#559) – .03 acres, 4 firefighters

Two new fire starts reported yesterday afternoon 13 miles south of Wiseman, and 6 miles east of Coldfoot. The two fires are one tenth of a mile apart. Due to the fires smoldering in black spruce, eight smoke jumpers were deployed to cover both fires. Precipitation then helped moderate fire behavior. The fire is expected to be in mop-up today and tomorrow.

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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