Utilizing an aggressive water air assault, two hotshot crews and eight smokejumpers were able to stop the growth of a fire burning east of Stevens Village at 83 acres Thursday. However, due to the fire spotting outside the main perimeter, the firefighters will need to seek out and make sure these spot fires are extinguished before calling the Alfred Fire (#215) contained. The BLM Alaska Fire Service Chena Hotshots and the Rogue River Hotshots from the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in Oregon anticipate the meticulous job of finding and mopping the spot fires and the main fire will take several days before calling the fire contained.
This is one of the only six fires that are staffed statewide. Three are located within the same 40 miles in Interior Alaska. Besides the Isom Creek Fire (#187) southeast of the Dalton Highway Yukon River Crossing, two smokejumpers are wrapping up work on a quarter-acre fire burning 10 miles to the west. Helicopters working on the Isom Creek Fire diverted to the Big Salt Fire (#224) and were able to drop buckets of water Thursday night after it was reported. This gave the smokejumpers a head start on containing the fire that was burning 8 miles west of the Dalton Highway north of the Yukon River crossing. The smokejumpers will mop up the fire before calling it out and demobilizing later today.
Fire officials expect more lightning and more fires in the northeastern part of the state. While the Fortymile country around Chicken and the Canadian border received rain Thursday, a large swath of land along the Yukon River corridor from Fort Yukon down to the Yukon Bridge hasn’t seen any measurable moisture since the last bit of snow melted in early May. The Yukon Flats is typically a dry spot for the state all summer. With lightning recorded in this area over the past few days and more predicted today, new ignitions may emerge as the dry and hot weather is forecasted to continue.
This could translate into an uptick of aircraft and firefighter response in Fort Yukon and Chalkyitsik. The BLM AFS fire station in Fort Yukon already had some firefighting personnel and aircraft come through. Chalkyitsik, which had a front-row seat to fires last season, has not seen any in response to wildfires. If this does change, firefighters will take measures to ensure the community is notified in advance and ask people to view the activity from a far to due to COVID-19 concerns.
So far this season, 199 fires have burned an estimated 82,795 acres in Alaska. Of those, 101 were suspected to have been caused by humans. The Isom Creek Fire is the largest at 10,618 acres.
For more information, contact the Alaska Interagency Fire Information Office at (907)356-5511.