Chalkyitsik Complex Fire Update

Chalkyitsik Complex – #466 (Tractor Trail 2 –#348, Frozen Calf Fire –#367, Bearnose Hill Fire –#407, and Tettjajik Creek #424) – 482,192 acres– 281personnel are assigned to the complex

Dense smoke settled over the Upper Yukon Flats Tuesday as light and variable winds did little to clear the air. A Dense Smoke Advisory issued by the National Weather Service is in effect until noon Thursday.Temperatures will be in the 80s again today but cooler weather is forecast for Thursday along with a chance of isolated showers and thunderstorms. Despite being hot Tuesday, smoke and partly cloudy skies prevented the fires of the Chalkyitsik Complex from becoming very active. Spread was mostly terrain driven as the fires found burnable fuels for up hill runs with areas of group tree torching, flanking and backing. Interior pockets of fuel burned and will continue to burn, putting up smoke from all of the fires in the complex until there is a considerable amount of rain or snow. The Tettjajik Creek Fire (#424) was the only fire in the complex that had measurable spread, which was minimal on its north flank.

Fire map of Chalkyitsik Complex as of July 2, 2019.
Fire map of Chalkyitsik Complex as of July 24, 2019.
Download a PDF version of this map here.

As crews were bedding down for the night Monday evening about 11:30, the North Star Hand Crew reported hearing the fire sounding like a jet engine across the Draanjik River from their campsite.

Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) operators, camping nearby, were requested for a reconnaissance and reported a pocket of unburned fuel within the fire’s perimeter activley burning. A UAS pilot and observer determined the best course of action was to burnout these fuels along the river. This action prevented the fire from spotting across the river during the night. Without the use of the drone to do this work, a response would have been delayed until the next day when crews could safely cross the river or when helicopters could fly. The ability of drones to operate in conditions that normally would not be attempted most likely prevented the fire from escaping the perimeter or spotting across the river where crews were camped.

Progression map for the Chalkyitsik Complex for July 24, 2019.
Progression map for the Chalkyitsik Complex for July 24, 2019.
Download a PDF for this map here.

A drone equipped with an infrared camera was also used to look for hot spots as firefighters mopped up where they burned their indirect line that runs south from Chalkyitsik to Ohtig Lake. This firing operation has removed burnable vegetative matter to prevent the fire from spreading into the village. Fire managers took advantage of moderate fire behavior to use a drone to ignite ground fire and burn the leaf litter and fine fuels in the under story. This is an area of mixed hardwoods and spruce on oxbows near Chalkyitsik along the Draanjik River. By removing these fuels, the likelihood of the fire spotting across the river into unburned areas is greatly reduced.

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.

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