The Rainbow 2 Fire northwest of Delta Junction continues to hold on the south edge of Clear Creek and south of the Richardson Clearwater River community, where there are numerous recreational cabins.
A reconnaissance flight using infrared technology on Monday revealed some fire activity on the southern end of the east flank where the fire is backing into an old burn scar but the fire had not moved any closer to cabins along the Richardson Clearwater on the north and east ends, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry.
The fire, which was started by lightning on June 29 and has grown to an estimated 11,919 acres, is burning about 15 miles northwest of Delta Junction. The fire was receiving light rain Tuesday morning.
The 66 firefighters assigned to the incident continue to focus efforts on the northeastern edge of the fire closest to the Richardson Clearwater community. A firefighter spike camp is located on state land adjacent to the cabins on the Richardson Clearwater River.
A Type 1 helicopter again assisted firefighters on the ground with water drops to extinguish spot fires established along a ridge on the northwest flank of the fire that separates that part of the fire from the Richardson Clearwater community. Two Blackhawk helicopters from the Alaska Army National Guard provided support in the form of water drops for a squad of firefighters from Delta Area Forestry and the White Mountain Type 2 Initial Attack Crew as they worked on containing the northeast flank of the fire to keep it from advancing farther north toward the Richardson Clearwater.
Wind increased fire activity along the southern flank on Monday and pushed the fire through some unburnt spruce stringers and patches of unburnt fuel in the interior of the fire, producing smoke columns that were clearly visible from Delta Junction and the Richardson Clearwater community. A Type 2 initial attack crew from Montana was shuttled in by boat to work on the east flank of the fire. Another Type 2 IA crew will be shuttled in by boat today in the same area.
Crews continue working on structure preparation and point protection in the Richardson Clearwater area and mopping up the northeastern edge of the fire to keep it from moving further north toward cabins. Crews are mopping up 300’ feet in from the perimeter in that section.
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. Cool, damp weather Saturday reduced fire intensity, but clearer skies Sunday and Monday allowed fuels to dry. Scattered showers are forecast over the next few days which 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 and occasional single-tree torching in black spruce.