Upper Yukon Zone temps highest in state, fuels fire activity

Photo showing Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team Deputy Incident Commander Ed Sanford leading a community meeting Monday morning, July 15, 2019, in the village of Chalkyitsik. Many of the residents attend the morning operational briefings given each day for firefighters in the field. Photo by Sam Harrel/Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team
Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team Deputy Incident Commander Ed Sanford leads a community meeting Monday morning, July 15, 2019, in the village of Chalkyitsik. Many of the residents attend the morning operational briefings given each day for firefighters in the field. Sam Harrel/Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team

Temperatures in the Yukon Flats will range from 65-85 degrees. Low relative humidity will be 35-45% with winds out of the west at 5-10 mph. Any thunderstorms are predicted to be accompanied by showers.

Thirty-four fires are burning within the Upper Yukon Fire Management Zone; most are not threatening people or property. Ten 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 are 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) – 286,870 acres – 225 personnel are assigned to the complex.

Photo of Division Supervisor Billy McCall, second from left, gives an operational update to Missoula Smokejumpers Emma Hawn, left, and Brian Ries, middle, at a cabin site along the Draanjik River on Monday afternoon, July 15, 2019. Boat operator Davis Carroll, right, listens in. Sam Harrel/Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team
Division Supervisor Billy McCall, second from left, gives an operational update to Missoula Smokejumpers Emma Hawn, left, and Brian Ries, middle, at a cabin site along the Draanjik River on Monday afternoon, July 15, 2019. Boat operator Davis Carroll, right, listens in. Sam Harrel/Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team

Hot and dry weather with prevailing southwest winds persist over the Upper Yukon area Monday. Once again the Tractor Trail 2 Fire (#348), Bearnose Hill Fire (#407) and Frozen Calf Fire (#367) were very active. The Tractor Trail 2 Fire was extremely active with rapid rates of spread north and east for several miles making it to the Little Black River corridor. The south flank was also active, backing into the wind spreading to the southwest and south. On the Bearnose Hill Fire, the fire was active in a number of areas, on the south flank, it was backing into the prevailing southwest wind to the Little Black River corridor. A little more than a mile separates the Bearnose Hill and Tractor Trail 2 fires. On its north flank, the Bearnose Hill Fire was also active but its rate of spread was not as dramatic as was shown yesterday. It still has not reached Ohtig or Tiinkdhul lakes. On the Frozen Calf Fire, the southwest corner was again actively backing and flanking in to the wind, south toward the Draanjik River corridor. The northwest corner was also active again with moderate rates of growth to the north toward the Porcupine River.

Work continues outside of Chalkyitsik on an indirect dozer line that extends south from the village to Ohtig Lake. A firing operation from this indirect line is being planned to remove dense stands of black spruce from in front of the Bearnose Hill Fire to protect the village from that fire. That fire is now 6.5 miles southeast of the village.

Photo of fire hoses and gated wyes with reducers are used to distribute water from a pump to sprinklers positioned around a cabin site Monday afternoon, July 15, 2019, along the Draanjik River. Photo by Sam Harrel/Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team
Gated wyes with reducers are used to distribute water from a pump to sprinklers positioned around a cabin site Monday afternoon, July 15, 2019, along the Draanjik River. Sam Harrel/Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team

Fresh crews just assigned to the fire began work to tie natural barriers together in order to create an additional indirect fire line six miles northeast of Chalkyitsik, between the village and the Frozen Calf Fire that is 10 miles northeast of the village. A fire operation from this indirect line is being planned to remove thick areas of black spruce. This same indirect line will also protect several remote cabins and allotments in the Draanjik River corridor (formerly Black River).

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

KZPA 900 AM radio in Fort Yukon is airing information updates about the Chalkyitsik Complex of fires daily at 12:50 pm.

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, 64 firefighters

Dry fuels, increased temperatures, and lowering relative humidity translated into active fire activity today. Fire burned predominantly to the northeast and east as it chugged through marshy areas near Venetie Landing, traversing about 1 mile today. The fire is now approximately 1 mile from the nearest allotment to the northeast. A recon flight today will assess access options to allotments east of the fire. Additional crews arrive today at Beaver staging to be assigned to the fire. The fire edge has progressed to the east up to the Chandalar River. The Hadweenzic River Fire is burning approximately 6 1/2 miles northeast from Nahshii Bible camp and 20 miles west of Fort Yukon.

Fire map of the Upper Yukon Zone shows the many fires currently burning.
Fire map of the Upper Yukon Zone shows the many fires currently burning. For a PDF version of this map, click here.

Tony Slough Fire (#493) – 971 acres, 52 firefighters

Fire managers measure several indices to predict fire behavior and potential growth. Indices confirm what firefighters on the ground know firsthand…the fuels are very dry and do not need much encouragement to burn. A southwest wind yesterday pushed the fire through dried fuels with active fire growth to the northeast as it churned its way through clusters of black spruce. A staging area has been set up in Beaver to support firefighting efforts in the area. The Tony Slough Fire received more than 40 personnel today as crews continued to implement strategies to reduce fire spread. 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

Yesterday with highs in the mid 80’s, clear skies, west-southwesterly winds 5-7 miles per hour gusting to 10 miles per hour, fire behavior was minimal. The fuels will need several more days of drying weather before firefighters can implement the burnout to protect allotments. Firefighters completed cutting a line on the west side of the allotments. The Chandalar River Fire is burning approximately one mile southwest of Venetie, still on the west side of the Chandalar River.

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