Chalkyitsik Complex: securing the half million-acre fire complex above the Arctic Circle

Chalkyitsik Complex Progression Map August 1, 2019
Chalkyitsik Complex Progression Map

Tractor Trail 2 – #348, Frozen Calf Fire – #367, Bearnose Hill Fire – #407, Tettjajik Creek #424, Small Timber Lake Fire – #687

Firefighters continue Thursday mopping up the Chalkyitsik Complex, a 500,686 acre fire complex above the Arctic Circle. 416 firefighters and fire managers are assigned to the fire under Incident Commander Norm McDonald. Operations Chief and Tanana Chiefs Conference Fire Management Specialist Clinton Northway stated, “Yukon Flats area has received no measurable rain and fire fuels are still at record highs along with the drought codes. This is impacting mop up activities along the western edge of the Frozen Calf Fire as fuels are burning deep.” Crews continue to strengthen lines from Ohtig Lake north up to Chalkyitsik and in the Chahalie Lake area to prevent fire growth. Smoke jumpers and 2 fire crews are working to contain a slop over in the area of Chahalie Slough. Crews are also deployed along the Draanjik River corridor to mitigate any fire hazards and set up structure protection to allotments and permitted cabins.

During this mop up phase, the team has started planning to backhaul tons of fire hose and pumps by aircraft to the Alaska Fire Service base in Fairbanks. “Fires in rural Alaska are logistically unique. We are flying in crews to Chalkyitsik, which is above the Arctic Circle, then sending firefighters and equipment to the fire by helicopter and jet boat along the river system. After the fire perimeter is secured, all the crews and equipment need to return to Chalkyitsik and then fly back to Fairbanks. It’s just not as easy as rolling hose, placing it on the fire truck bed and driving it back to the fire station”, said Michelle Weston, Fire Information Officer. Chalkyitsik residents have been hired to assist with movement of equipment and the Alaska Incident Management Team thanks the community for their support, patience and understanding in hosting the fire crews.

Hazard trees and snags (dead standing trees) within the fire perimeter are a safety risk to crews with today’s expected gusty winds. Crews are working in areas where forest fuels are still extremely dry and can transition to crown fire with very little wind even after a little rain.

Chalkyitsik Complex Map August 1, 2019
Chalkyitsik Complex Map August 1, 2019

WEATHER: Thursday: Cloudy, then partly sunny with scattered morning showers. Isolated showers in the afternoon with Southwest winds 7-14 mph with gusts to 20 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny with Southwest winds 810 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

INFO: Watch Our Videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCoH06vU7IIfpeuXdboACkw. A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) remains in place: https://tfr.faa.gov.

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