June 6, 2020 update – After receiving a significant amount of rain this week, the Clear Creek Fire (#128) burning in the Tanana Flats Training Area 9 miles south of Fairbanks exhibited no fire activity and very little smoke during two flights this week
The fire was flown both on Thursday and Saturday with a helicopter. On Thursday, the fire was mapped at an estimated 1,400 acres, a figure that did not change on Saturday. Very little smoke was observed either day.
The lightning-caused fire was burning in a Fort Wainwright military impact area since it started on May 31. Military impact areas have the potential to contain unexploded ordnance and are no-go zones for ground and aerial firefighting. Because firefighter and the public safety is the number one priority in wildland firefighting, the risk was too great, especially when the predicted rain could do the work without putting firefighters in harm’s way.
Instead, BLM AFS personnel are monitoring the fire with regularly scheduled flights.
June 2, 2020 – Rain and higher overnight humidity levels Monday night helped calm the lightning-caused Clear Creek Fire burning in a military training area 9 miles south of Fairbanks. BLM Alaska Fire Service personnel flew over the fire area Tuesday afternoon and estimated the fire to be 1,296 acres. There were very few areas where smoke was visible during the 3:30 p.m. Tuesday flight. No flames were seen, only minimal smoldering. Approximately 5 percent of the perimeter was active.
More thundercells are forecasted in the fire’s general vicinity over the next few days, which could bring more rain to help douse the fire. However, the rain has so far been sporadic and localized. In addition, thunderstorms are often accompanied by erratic, gusty winds that could push fire growth. These winds could also bring smoke into Fairbanks in the evenings, although it will likely not reach levels seen on Monday.
Wind from Monday’s thundercells pushed the flames west and south, which coupled with the abundance of fire-receptive tundra grass, were the main factors in the more than 1,200-acre growth that day.
The Clear Creek Fire (#128) started on Sunday and is burning in the Fort Wainwright Garrison’s Tanana Flats Training Area (TFTA). This 592,699-acre training area is located south of the Tanana River. Maneuver areas and drop zones comprise approximately 86 percent of the installation’s total area; however, 58,826 acres are in impact areas. The Clear Creek Fire is burning in one of the two primary impact areas – the Alpha Impact Area located in the northern portion of the TFTA.
Military impact areas have the potential to contain unexploded ordnance and are no-go zones for ground and aerial firefighting. Given the low altitude at which firefighting aircraft operate at when dropping water or retardant in order to be effective in suppressing the fire, there is a risk a drop results in a detonation of ordnance, placing the aircraft and those aboard in danger. Otherwise, BLM AFS would have taken swift action to suppress this fire. Because firefighter and the public safety is the number one priority in wildland firefighting, the risk was too great, especially when anticipating forecasted rain could do the work without putting firefighters in harm’s way.
Instead, BLM AFS personnel will closely monitor the fire with regularly scheduled flights.
For more information, contact BLM AFS Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at (907)388-2159 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Categories: Active Wildland Fire