New fire burning in Tanana Zone as skies begin to clear

Skies were clearer Sunday over the Tanana Zone as scattered showers tapered off and the sun came out. Showers and mainly wet thunderstorms are forecast today for the zone, but precipitation is expected to be spotty. These storms could linger over the next few days ahead of a change in the weather that is predicted to bring cooler temperatures, “a shot of rain” and reduced thunderstorm activity.

A map for July 15, 2019, of fires burning in the Tanana Zone.
A map for July 15, 2019, of fires burning in the Tanana Zone.

Two new fires were reported Sunday, one requiring suppression action. Most fires in the zone showed little to no increase in size, but some vigorous fire activity was reported. Twenty-one fires are burning in the zone with nearly 206,000 acres burned this year.

Below are descriptions of the six staffed fires within the Tanana Zone:

South Base (#555) – 18 acres, 8 firefighters

The lightning-sparked South Base Fire, burning about 4 miles southeast of Bettles, was reported Sunday by agency aircraft working another fire in the area. Eight smokejumpers were deployed and put in line around the fire. The area experienced decent humidity recovery overnight. Today the smokejumpers will work to reinforce the fireline, with special attention on the northern edge of the fire, where the brushy fuels continue to hold heat.

Grouse Creek (#485) and Twin Ponds (#486) – 2,000 acres, 51 firefighters

The Grouse Creek and Twin Ponds fires, 6 miles northeast of the village of Rampart, made numerous runs on Sunday,  producing three large columns of smoke and burning together. Saw work is complete around Rampart and crews will continue to plumb and prep the village as well as the cabins north of the fire. The Incident Management Team estimates the fire grew by 7,500 acres since the last mapping, however, precise mapping has not been completed yet.

Bergman Creek Fire (#312) – 45,000 acres, 61 firefighters

Firefighters reported two days with no rain and “pretty clear” conditions on the Bergman Creek Fire, located 28 miles southwest of Allakaket. The fire was more showing more activity this morning than the previous few days. Firefighters worked on cutting and improving lines around the Arctic City historic site, and the Ohio Type 2 IA crew cut lines Sunday around allotments along the Kanuti River. Fireline has been constructed around a cabin on Lake Todatonke. Firefighters are also checking for other sites that may need point protection in the Lake Todatonken area. The Lewis and Clark Hotshots arrived at the fire late Sunday night. Firefighters remain on the alert for the potential of nearby holdover fires from a lightning storm that moved through the area three days ago. 

Lloyd Mountain Fire (#361) – 29,446 acres, 22 firefighters

The Lloyd Mountain Fire is located on the east side of the Cosna River, 45 miles southwest of Manley Hot Springs. Fire crews reported clouds with some clear sky and a general haziness from smoke hanging over the fire. During a reconnaissance flight Sunday, firefighters spotted no smokes on the west side of the fire for the second day in a row. The southern portion of the fire was showing three to four isolated smokes, with just one near the perimeter. Numerous smokes and some heat were observed in the north and northeast portions of the fire Sunday, but it was less than half the activity observed Saturday. There was definitely no movement of the fire Sunday, due in part to the high relative humidity. Crews started pumps at all locations and began hauling out unused equipment.  

Foraker Fire (#389) – 45,000 acres, 5 firefighters

The Foraker Fire is in Denali National Park, 22 miles west of Kantishna. Firefighters reported heavy rain Sunday afternoon in Slippery Creek and Birch Creek. The Incident Commander was able to get in a quick reconnaissance flight Sunday. He determined the perimeter had not changed and said the fire is not very active and is producing little smoke. Firefighters will monitor weather and fire activity today.

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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