Chalkyitsik Complex sees active fire behavior

Chalkyitsik Complex – #466 (Tractor Trail 2 –#348, Frozen Calf Fire –#367, Bearnose Hill Fire –#407, and Tettjajik Creek #424) – 473,451 acres combined – 281 personnel assigned to the complex

Portions of all four fires in the Chalkyitsik Complex were active yesterday. The Bearnose Hill Fire is continuing to run to the northeast, spreading another 2 miles north of the Draanjik River. The fire worked slowly east through muskeg areas of Rotten Fish Slough and is about 10 miles away from the historic Salmon Village area.

Dense smoke settled in Chalkyitsik on Tuesday morning, July 23, 2019. A high pressure ridge over northeast Alaska has brought warmer temperatures along with light and variable winds. Smoke will persist through the week. A chance of rain Friday may clear some of the smoke away. Sam Harrel/Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team
Dense smoke settled in Chalkyitsik on Tuesday morning, July 23, 2019. Sam Harrel/Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team

The Frozen Calf Fire (#367) showed minimal activity on the north side, where it remains south of the Porcupine River and 4 miles from John Herbert’s Village. The Frozen Calf and Bearnose Hill fires burned actively where they have merged south of the Draanjik and east of Chalkyitsik. 

The Tractor Trail 2 Fire (#348) was most active on its east flank, spreading toward the Little Black River. It is finding unreceptive fuels as the northwest corner spreads slowly into the burn scar of the 2006 Grass Fire. The Tettjajik Creek Fire (#424) was active on the north flank as it spread 1.5 miles to the north.

Chalkyitsik Complex Map for July 23
Chalkyitsik Complex Map for July 23
For a PDF of this map, click HERE.

A drone dropping plastic spheres to ignite fires on the ground was used to burn the leaf litter and fine fuels in the under story of mixed hardwoods and spruce on oxbows east of the Chief David Salmon Kids Camp across the Draanjik River. Fire managers chose to do this work during conditions that moderated fire growth to slowly bring the fire to the river’s edge. By removing these fuels, the likelihood of the fire spotting across the river is greatly reduced.

Firefighters conducting burnout operations made their away around allotments on the northeast corner of Ohtig Lake. They will continue along the eastern side to eventually tie into the Bearnose Hill Fire southeast of the lake. Drones will be used to widen the burned perimeter to ensure the combined Bearnose Hill and Frozen Calf fires will have less fuel to burn in the direction of Chalkyitsik. This is preparation for an east-northeast wind later in the week, which the area has not seen in some time. 

Chalkyitsik Complex Progression Map for July 23
Chalkyitsik Complex Progression Map for July 23
For a PDF of this map, click HERE.

Small squads of firefighters worked at cabins along the Draanjik River to mop-up the fire’s edge where burnouts have been conducted to protect structures. Cabins near Nelson Bluff and upriver have been prepped with pumps and sprinklers. Firefighters will next begin point protection work at Salmon Village in case the fire continues to move east. Crews have also prepped John Herberts Village on the Porcupine River and have completed point protection for sites on the Little Black River. 

Temperatures in the 80s with light and variable winds brought on by a high-pressure ridge allowed smoke to settle over the Upper Yukon Flats Monday. Smoke is expected to be present as this weather pattern continues until mid-week when a chance of isolated showers and thunderstorms are forecast.

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.govfor more information on the TFR.

For a PDF of this update, visit HERE.

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