More Crews Arrive for Rainbow 2 Fire

(Delta Junction) – Two Type 2 fire crews of 20 firefighters each have joined firefighting modules on the Rainbow 2 Fire.

A total of 63 personnel are currently assigned to the fire which is burning about 15 miles north of Delta Junction. A firefighter spike camp is located on state land adjacent to the cabins on the Richardson Clearwater River.

July 15, 2019 map of the Rainbow 2 Fire
7-15-19 map of the Rainbow 2 Fire

The Rainbow 2 Fire is currently estimated at 11,919 acres. An infrared flight was conducted yesterday to map the fire and to detect hot spots on the north end of fire closest to the Richardson Clearwater River where several recreational cabins are located.

Crews are working on structure preparation and point protection in the area and mopping up the northeastern edge of the fire to keep it from moving further north toward the Richardson Clearwater community. Crews are mopping up 300’ feet in from the perimeter in that section.

Blackhawk helicopters from the Army National Guard dropped bucket loads of water on the northeast end of fire.

Fire managers have ordered a Type 1 Sikorsky 63 helicopter in addition to the Blackhawks. The heavy helicopter will conduct bucket drops to assist firefighters protecting cabins and structures along the Richardson Clearwater River.

Photo of Sikorsky 63 heavy helicopter with crewmembers preparing to launch.
A Sikhorsky-63 heavy helicopter is fueled and prepared to provide support to firefighters on the Rainbow 2 Fire. The heavy helicopter will sling buckets of water to drop on hot spots on the northern end of the fire.

A helitac squad from Delta and two fireboss water scoopers dropped water on the northwest flank of the fire and suppressed hot spots on a ridge separating the fire from the Richardson Clearwater community.

The fire management team is working with cabin owners to make them aware of safety concerns regarding helicopters dipping water out of the Richardson Clearwater River. Some private boats traveling on the river traveled close to where bucket dipping was taking place and managers were concerned about safety to the public and helicopter crews. The team has communicated with local property owners to make sure they know to wait until helicopters leave the area before traveling on the river.   

The fire has shown moderate to low fire behavior since Thursday night when it made a run to within one quarter mile of structures on the Richardson Clearwater River. Clear skies over the Rainbow 2 fire have resulted in mixed effects. Cool, damp weather Saturday reduced fire intensity, but clearer skies today will allow the fuels to dry out. However, scattered showers are forecast over the next few days should keep fire behavior low. Clearer skies also allow safer use of aircraft support on the fire.

The fire is burning primarily in black spruce. Mixed hardwoods and an old burn scar in the path of the fire are slowing its progress. Current fire behavior is smoldering with some creeping in the moss, with occasional single-tree torching in black spruce.

The fire was started by lightning on June 29.

CONTACT: Tim Mowry, 907-356-5511, tim.mowry@alaska.gov.

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