Strong winds drive fire activity on the Chalkyitsik Complex

Chalkyitsik Complex – #466 (Tractor Trail 2 – #348, Frozen Calf Fire – #367, Bearnose Hill Fire – #407, and Tettjajik Creek #424) – 414,899 acres – 235 personnel are assigned to the complex

This short video clip from BLM drone pilot Joe Don Morton shows just how fast firefighters on the ground can extinguish spot fires located by drones, also known as unmanned aerial systems, that are assigned to the fire.

We’ve added the freeze frame and red circles to the video to help you see the firefighters, one with a hand tool and one with a hose, who extinguished the spotfire. #ChalkyitsikComplex #BLMUAS

A passing weather system brought much cooler temperatures and strong, gusty southwest winds to the Upper Yukon Flats but little, if any of the forecast precipitation materialized Saturday. A high-pressure ridge will build over the Interior next week bringing a return to dry, warm weather. All four fires of the Chalkyitsik Complex were very active. Two of the largest fires merged after a three-mile wide fire front of the Bearnose Hill Fire (#407) ran seven-miles to the east and northeast and merged with the Frozen Calf Fire (#367) north of the Draanjik River southeast of Frozen Calf Mountain. Firing operations on the southwest corner of the Frozen Calf Fire have prevented the fire from spreading toward Chalkyitsik as it crossed the Draanjik moving south. The north flank of the Frozen Calf Fire continues to spread north toward the Porcupine River but still remains four-miles away from Herbert Village. The Tractor Trail 2 Fire (#348) was active on the east flank as it continued to spread towards the Little Black River. It was also active on its northwest corner spreading into the burn scar of the 2006 Grass Fire, which may slow its advance. The Tettjajik Creek Fire (#424) continued to burn actively as it spreads to the southeast toward the Salmon Fork River.

A helicopter equipped with a water dropping bucket works along the eastern side of the old river oxbows to the east of Chalkyitsik on Saturday afternoon, July 20, 2019. Firefighters were holding and improving a control line they hand fired Friday evening. Sam Harrel/Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team
A helicopter equipped with a water dropping bucket works along the eastern side of the old river oxbows to the east of Chalkyitsik on Saturday afternoon, July 20, 2019. Firefighters were holding and improving a control line they hand fired Friday evening. Sam Harrel/Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team

Firing operations continued Saturday evening along dozer lines running south from Chalkyitsik toward Ohtig Lake ahead of both the Frozen Calf and Bearnose Hill fires. A drone monitored for spot fires that when detected were quickly picked up by crews. This emphasis is keeping the fires from moving toward the village.

Firefighters also conducted burnouts around Jessie Thomas’ cabin in the area of Dog House and around James Nathaniel Jr.’s cabin as the fires were approaching the river. Pumps and sprinkler systems were activated at both sites. Firefighters returned to Harry Carroll Jr.’s after the fire passed to mop-up hot spots around the cabin and and refueled the pumps to keep the sprinklers running. They then moved up river to Clifton Carroll’s where they planned to mop up around the cabin, refuel the pumps to keep the sprinkler system active and spend the night.

The fire’s edge is about six-miles west of the Rotten Fish Sough area where cabins are prepped with pumps and sprinklers. Crews have also prepped Herbert Village on the Porcupine River and have completed point protection for sites on the Little Black River.

Map of the Chalkyitsik Complex fires on July 21/19. For a pdf version of the map, click here.
Map of the Chalkyitsik Complex fires on July 21/19. For a pdf version of the map, click here.

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.

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