Upper Yukon: Weather may allow burnout operations

Weather conditions today or tomorrow could finally allow firefighters to conduct planned burnout operations on three fires in the Upper Yukon Zone’s Cornucopia Complex: the Hadweenzic Fire (#337), the Tony Slough Fire (#493) and the Chandalar River Fire (#349). Firefighters have prepared for these burnout operations for more than a week, cutting line and laying hoses around allotments and structures.

Firefighters from the Yukon Flats Type 2 Emergency Firefighter Crew work inside a saw line that is designed to help protect allotments from the Chandalar River Fire. Hoses have been laid inside the saw line as well. PHOTO: Beth Ipsen/BLM Alaska Fire Service
Firefighters from the Yukon Flats Type 2 Emergency Firefighter Crew work inside a saw line that is designed to help protect allotments from the Chandalar River Fire. Hoses have been laid inside the saw line as well. PHOTO: Beth Ipsen/BLM Alaska Fire Service

All 10 fires in the Cornucopia Complex were active yesterday, with firefighters on the ground reporting group torching of trees and backing, which is when flames burn against the wind or in the absence of wind, instead of being wind-driven. The Upper Yukon Zone still has not received measurable precipitation. Thunderstorms are forecast for tomorrow but are not expected to deliver any wetting rains.

The Portland National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) assumed control of the Cornucopia Complex yesterday morning, with personnel inserted into fire areas to support the incident commanders of each fire. Aerial reconnaissance yesterday mapped all fires, which accounts for the adjustments in acreage shown below.

Yukon Flats Type 2 Emergency Firefighter Crew Boss Ben Peter, on left, and Division Superintendent John Ellis of Oregon work inside a saw line that is designed to help protect allotments from the Chandalar River Fire. Hoses have been laid inside the saw line as well. Beth Ipsen/BLM Alaska Fire Service
Yukon Flats Type 2 Emergency Firefighter Crew Boss Ben Peter, on left, and Division Superintendent John Ellis of Oregon work inside a saw line that is designed to help protect allotments from the Chandalar River Fire. Hoses have been laid inside the saw line as well. Beth Ipsen/BLM Alaska Fire Service

Hadweenzic River Fire (#337) – 58,363 acres, 142 personnel 

Fire behavior was active yesterday with group torching of black spruce, with fire burning on all flanks which is characteristic of fuels during very dry and warm conditions. Fire activity rose throughout the day whenever wind gusts, afternoon heat, dry fuels and topography align. Fuel indices remain in the high to very high range which means fuel sources will continue to burn very easily. The west end of the fire is burning less than 5 miles northeast of Nahshii Bible Camp and about 19 miles west of Fort Yukon. 

Tony Slough Fire (#493) – 6,285 acres, 48 personnel 

Protecting Camp Nahshii, and the many structures within its perimeter, remains a primary objective. Crews are positioning hose lines along natural barriers in preparation for potential burnout operations around the camp. Burnout operations are well choreographed events between ground crews and air resources which support the operation with water drops to stop the fire from moving beyond a designated fire line.The fire is about 1 mile from the Bible camp and 8 miles northeast of the village of Beaver.  

A Temporary Flight Restriction is in place for the Hadweenzic and Tony Slough fires. Go to https://tfr.faa.gov for more information on the TFR.

Upper Yukon Zone fire map for July 23
Upper Yukon Zone fire map for July 23
For a PDF of this map, click HERE.

Chandalar River Fire (#349) – 11,162 acres, 90 personnel 

Conditions yesterday prevented firefighters from carrying out firing operations. The same conditions are predicted for today. That should change Wednesday, based on the forecast, when a wind out of the northwest should provide a good opportunity to conduct burn operation to protect allotments.. All allotments south of the river and north of the fire are prepped with saw lines and hose lays. The fire is still holding about 1 mile southwest of Venetie, with the Chandalar River serving as a natural barrier between the fire and the village.

Firefighters from the Yukon Flats Type 2 Emergency Firefighter Crew work to get a pump going for the hoses placed along saw lines that have been cut to protect allotments from the Chandalar River Fire. PHOTO: Beth Ipsen/BLM Alaska Fire Service
Firefighters from the Yukon Flats Type 2 Emergency Firefighter Crew work to get a pump going for the hoses placed along saw lines that have been cut to protect allotments from the Chandalar River Fire. PHOTO: Beth Ipsen/BLM Alaska Fire Service

East Fork Chandalar Fire (#572) – 190 acres, 50 personnel 

A flight over the fire yesterday found no heat at all and no growth in the perimeter, according to the NIMO operations chief. Crews continue to search for hot spots inside the fire perimeter and put them out. The fire is still 25 miles northwest of Venetie. 

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 (208) 274-3316 or email 2019.AFS.FIRES@gmail.com.

The Portland National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) has assumed management of 10 active fires in the Upper Yukon Zone. The Hadweenzic River Fire (#337), Tony Slough Fire (#493), Chandalar River Fire (#349) and East Fork Chandalar Fire (#572) are staffed and will be managed by the NIMO team. The following fires are unstaffed but are being monitored within the complex: Sixty-One Mountain 1 Fire (#622), Trail Creek (#621), Woodsman (#602), Coal River (#601), Thazzik Mountain (#594) and Pitka (#573).

For a PDF of this update, click HERE.

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