COPPER CENTER, AK – More rain is expected today as showers continue to move through the Copper River Basin area. An increase in rainfall expected for Friday. Recent precipitation across the south-central part of the state should moderate fire behavior. However, warmer and drier weather conditions forecast for next week will affect how much drying the fuels need until they become burnable again. The Chetaslina and Long fires are burning deep into the ground, two to three feet in some places. It will require significant amounts of moisture over a prolonged period of time followed by a blanket of snow to extinguish the fires. In other words, a season ending event.
Both the Chetaslina Fire (#606) and the Long Fire (#484) are burning in old decadent boreal forests where fire has been mostly absent for 150 years or more. These decadent boreal forests are slow growing and can be less productive. Few animals are able to digest moss and spruce needles, but that is what builds up in large quantities on the ground of mature conifer forests. The build-up of fuels on the forest floors can also increase the risk of wildfires. Natural fires, like the two lightning-caused fires in the park and preserve, can help regenerate the forests.
The fire managers from the Valdez-Copper River Area Division of Forestry and the National Park Service will continue to balance the risk and benefits of the fires burning within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve while keeping firefighter and the public’s safety as the number one priority.
Below is an update for the two fires actively burning in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve:
Chetaslina Fire (#606) – This fire is estimated at 2,125 acres. Fire managers flew the fire yesterday and no change in fire behavior or perimeter was noted.
Long Fire (#484) – This 150-acre fire showed a slight increase in fire behavior with smoldering, thick smoke and some open flame burning on the initial fly-over. However the Remote Area Weather Station (RAWS) showed that the fire received. 9 inches of rain. Fire behavior had moderated by later in the day.
For statewide wildfire information, visit: https://akfireinfo.com/.
For additional information, please contact the Fire Information Center at (208)274-3316 or visit http://www.nps.gov/wrst/index.htm.