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.
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 email@example.com or (907)388-2159.