Suppression Efforts Continue On The Deshka Landing Fire

Excavator Works To Remove Heavy Fuels From Southeast Flank Fireline.
Photo: MIke McMillan – DNR

A second community meeting is scheduled for this Sunday, August 25 at the Willow Elementary School at 3:00 p.m. The Northwest Incident Management Team 10 will provide an update on the current fire situation and answer questions from the community.

The Deshka Landing Fire is located approximately five miles southwest of Willow, Alaska in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough within the Alaska Division of Forestry, Mat-Su Area Protection. The wind-driven fire started on August 17, 2019.

CURRENT SITUATION: Crews are continuing to make good progress in surrounding the fire and extinguishing hotspots. The northern portion of the fire has been “cold trailed” and firefighters are now conducting mop-up operations around many areas of the fire perimeter. However, the southern portion of the fire contains extremely heavy brush and fallen trees making suppression operations more hazardous to firefighters. Dry and heavy duff layers make mop-up operations more difficult as the fire burns deeply.

Excavators were brought in yesterday to create a safe corridor along the southern edges. Crews are using pumps and hoses to bring water along the control lines. Structure protection efforts are nearing completion in the Red Shirt Lake area. Structures approximately three miles from the fire’s southern boundary have been prepped by removing vegetation and setting up pumps and hoses.

FIREFIGHTER SAFETY: Firefighter safety is a concern, not only from falling trees, but the extremely dry conditions. Burned areas of vegetation are creating “ash pits” which result when tree roots burn deep into the ground. Several firefighters have been burned recently on other fires in the region when they inadvertently stepped into an ash pit. These ash pits are often difficult for firefighters to see and pose a hazard.

Prineville Hotshot Faller Makes Back Cut On Hazard Tree. Photo: Mike McMillan – DNR

Aircraft also create safety concerns for firefighters. Yesterday, the TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) designated by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) over the Red Shirt Lake area was violated by private aircraft. Every effort is being made to assure firefighter safety during the significant amount of time aircraft fly to deliver water, supplies, and equipment to the fireline.

Today is the first day of hunting season in the fire area. Hunters and firefighters cannot function safely within the same area. Game Management Unit 14A and State lands in the area have been closed to public access. Details can be found at: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/6532/50528/

EVACUATIONS: There are no evacuation orders in affect at this point. Residents living to the east and south of the fire are reminded to stay informed in the event fire conditions change.

WEATHER: A warming and drying trend will begin Monday through midweek as a high pressure moves into the area. No significant precipitation is forecast in the near future.

CLOSURES: Nancy Lake Recreation Area is closed to recreation and hunting to protect firefighters and aircraft working in the fire area. The Department of Natural Resources has also closed a portion of Game Management Unit 14A. For more information on the closures please visit: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/6532/50528

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