AFS Smokejumpers conduct first fire jump of year near Fort Yukon

BLM Alaska Fire Service smokejumpers mobilized Tuesday afternoon for the first time this year for a small fire burning about 13 miles west of Fort Yukon. The eight smokejumpers were able to stop the 1-acre Mink Fire’s movement within a couple of hours and are now in the process of mopping up the fire by extinguishing all of the hot spots. Because the fire burned deep and in dead and downed trees, they estimate it would take about two days of work before calling it out.

  • Photo of smoke, sloughs and lakes.
  • Photo of fire on landscape.

The Mink Fire (#073) was initially spotted by an aviator flying in the area who reported it to a FAA dispatch center in Anchorage shortly before 3:30 p.m. The dispatch center relayed it to a BLM AFS airplane that was en route to the AFS fire station at Fort Yukon with personnel and supplies. After a minor diversion, personnel aboard the AFS aircraft were able to give an initial assessment of the fire burning on the bank of a slough off of the Yukon River to help determine the level of response. The fire wasn’t immediately threatening any structures or cultural sites, but a Native allotment is about 2 miles to the northeast of the fire. The fire is also burning in a full protection area on Alaska Native Settlement Claims Act land.

Smokejumpers are highly skilled firefighters who parachute from an airplane flying at about 3,000 feet to land at a safe spot near the fire. Alaska smokejumpers are based at AFS facilities on Fort Wainwright and flew roughly 130 air miles north of Fairbanks to get to the Mink Fire.

Not only is the Mink Fire the first fire jump for Alaska smokejumpers, it is the first wildfire in BLM AFS protection boundaries that cover the northern half of the Alaska. The other fire logged is the Winterfell Mountain Fire (#001), is suspected to be a smoking oil shale seam about 25 miles from Eagle.

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

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Map of the Mink Fire
Map of the Mink Fire (#073), located about 13 miles west of Fort Yukon. Click on map for PDF version of map.

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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