Calmer weather and aerial support helped firefighters gain ground in taming the Deshka Landing Fire (#736) on Monday, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry.
The fire, estimated at 2,217 acres as of Monday afternoon, did not show significant growth on Monday, in large part because high winds from the previous day subsided and allowed aircraft to drop retardant and water at strategic points around the fire.
Air tankers made several retardant drops on the western flank of the fire to keep it from spreading toward the Susitna River while helicopter water drops also helped take some of the steam out of the fire. Strong north winds on Sunday limited the use of aircraft and pushed the fire to the south, forcing firefighters to pull back because of extreme fire behavior.
But lighter winds on Monday limited fire growth to the south and provided relief for firefighters working to build containment lines and hose lays on the eastern side of the fire closest to structures. A seven-member squad from the Pioneer Peak Interagency Hotshot Crew and the 22-person Tanana Chiefs Type 2 Initial Attack Crew made good progress putting in containment lines to prevent the fire from encroaching numerous structures to the east along Long Lake Road if it moves in that direction.
The fire, which started Saturday afternoon, is burning about 5 miles west of the Parks Highway near Mile 68. The fire is just south of West Deshka Landing Road and west of Nancy Lake Parkway.
Retardant drops were used on the western flank of the fire to help prevent the fire from reaching a large area of fuel that could provide momentum for the fire to swing around to the east if the winds switch.
Ten smokejumpers, meanwhile, focused their attention on removing brush and trees around approximately 45 cabins surrounding Red Shirt Lake, just to the south of the fire, while also plumbing the cabins with pumps, hose and sprinklers to protect them if the fire gains steam and continues south. The smokejumpers utilized a boat to access the cabins.
More help will arrive late Tuesday in the form of three hotshot crews from the Lower 48 that will be flying into Alaska, as well as another helicopter that will be used for water drops and logistical support to transport crews and supplies. Another two crews are expected to arrive from the Lower 48 on Wednesday.
A Type 2 team from the Pacific Northwest will arrive in Alaska Tuesday and will likely take command of the fire sometime on Wednesday.