Smokejumpers respond to contain spot fire from Chandalar River Fire near Venetie

Sept. 6, 2019

Four smokejumpers quickly responded Friday afternoon to contain a small fire that spotted across a control line protecting a Native allotment from the long-burning Chandalar River Fire west of Venetie. Smokejumpers anticipate containing the 30-by-30 foot fire by the end of shift Friday night. It was reported as smoldering in white spruce trees. The smokejumpers deployed after BLM Alaska Fire Service personnel aboard a reconnaissance flight spotted fire burning on the wrong side of a control line protecting one the Native allotments along Teedriinjik (Chandalar) River. After containing the fire, smokejumpers will then make sure the spot fire is completely out.

The lightning-caused Chandalar River Fire (#349) has burned 13,122 acres since it started on June 22. It burned in a limited management option area on the opposite side of the Teedriinjik River from Venetie and didn’t immediately garner a response until June 29 after it started threatening a group of Native allotments east of the fire.

Firefighters, including the Type 2 Emergency Firefighter Yukon Flats Crew with firefighters from Venetie, spent several weeks building control lines to keep the fire at bay. The fire eventually became a part of the Cornucopia Complex, which was completely demobilized by mid-August when the Yukon Flats’ busy fire season moderated. The fire continued to burn, but the intensity depended on several factors: the increasingly shorter days, the lower angle and intensity of the sun, and the possible onset of cooler, damper weather between dry spells.

After receiving reports of lightning in north of Venetie this week, BLM AFS Upper Yukon Fire Management Zone personnel flew over the affected area and numerous fires in the Yukon Flats area. Several spots of smoke were reported from areas south of Chalyitsik and within existing fire perimeters. Other areas of the Chandalar River Fire showed signs of life, however, with the exception of the spot fire on the wrong side of the control line, all were within the fire’s existing perimeter.

Due to another round of dry conditions in Northeast Alaska, BLM AFS personnel will continue routine flights over the area to check on fires of concern until a season-ending event such as a large amount of rain or even snow.

For more information, contact BLM Alaska Fire Service Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at (907)388-2159 or eipsen@blm.gov.

Map showing the Native allotment where the Chandalar River Fire spotted within a Native allotment Friday.
Smokejumpers are working to contain a 30-by-30 foot fire that spotted across the control line in the southwestern corner of this Native allotment Friday. They anticipate having the spotfire contained by end of shift Friday.

About BLM Alaska Fire Service

The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (AFS) located at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, provides wildland fire suppression services for over 244 million acres of Department of the Interior and Native Corporation Lands in Alaska. In addition, AFS has other statewide responsibilities that include: interpretation of fire management policy; oversight of the BLM Alaska Aviation program; fuels management projects; and operating and maintaining advanced communication and computer systems such as the Alaska Lightning Detection System. AFS also maintains a National Incident Support Cache with a $10 million inventory. The Alaska Fire Service provides wildland fire suppression services for America’s “Last Frontier” on an interagency basis with the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources, USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Military in Alaska.

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