Smokejumpers, Chena Hotshots working on late season fire near the Yukon River Crossing

The Chena Hotshots are mopping up a 7-acre fire that started Friday near the Yukon River crossing on the Dalton Highway about 80 miles north of Fairbanks. Smokejumpers responded to Fire #811, the Smoothface Mountain Fire, after it was reported Friday afternoon from someone at the Yukon River Camp near the river crossing at milepost 55. The wind was initially pushing the fire west and toward a nearby cabin and a Native allotment. The 20-person BLM Alaska Fire Service Chena Hotshots were mobilized Sunday to take over putting the fire out due to it burning up a steep, south-facing river embankment. Because it is burning in such steep terrain, the fire will need to be completely extinguished due to the chance that fiery debris could roll down and ignite unburned vegetation.

The Smoothface Mountain Fire (#811) is burning about 8 miles up the Yukon River from the Dalton Highway crossing.
The Smoothface Mountain Fire (#811) is burning about 8 miles up the Yukon River from the Dalton Highway crossing.

The fire is burning on the banks of the Yukon River about eight miles upriver from the Dalton Highway river crossing. The eight smokejumpers who initially responded on the fire were able to get hose and saw line around the fire perimeter and start mopping up the interior before seven of them demobilized Sunday. The fire is downriver from Stevens Village and burning close to the river after it started on a gravel bar, according to BLM Alaska Fire Service officials in the Upper Yukon Zone where the fire is burning. It is burning in an area with pockets of spruce mixed with hardwood trees.

Unfortunately for the firefighters, they’re working in chilly weather, especially at night when the temperatures dip down to near freezing. Wetter and colder weather is also forecasted to move in throughout most of the state later in the week.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

For more information, contact BLM AFS Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at (907)356-5511 or eipsen@blm.gov.

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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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