State forestry assessing five new wildfires north of Chena Hot Springs Road; smokejumpers deployed on one

UPDATE 10:30 p.m.:

Fire managers are still gathering information about the cluster of five wildfires detected within 5 miles of Chena Hot Springs Road. Smokejumpers have hiked to and checked on three of the fires and will be spending the night in the area. Two firefighters from the Alaska Division of Forestry hiked into the Little Chena Fire (#238) and will also be spending the night. At last report at around 6:30 p.m., the fires ranged in size from 1/4 acre to 2 acres. A helicopter was still making strategic water drops on the fires as of 10:15 p.m. All the fires were burning in black spruce but precipitation associated with the thunderstorm, along with higher relative humidity and cooler temperatures moderated fire behavior. More resources will likely be deployed to the fires tomorrow.

ORIGINAL POST:

The Alaska Division of Forestry is responding to a cluster of five lightning-caused wildfires north of Chena Hot Springs Road in the Little Chena Valley.

A load of eight smokejumpers was dropped on one of the fires, the Little Chena Fire, located about 3.7 miles north of Chena Hot Springs at milepost 23.  A helicopter is on scene dropping water on the fire to assist suppression efforts by smokejumpers on the ground.

Here is a map showing the location of four of the five wildfires that were detected Saturday afternoon north of Chena Hot Springs Road in the vicinity of milepost 23. The black lines are state forestry roads. The fifth fire, #241, has not been placed on the map. yet. For a downloadable PDF version of the map go to little-chena-fires-mapDownload or click on the link at the bottom of the article.

All five fires, dubbed Little Chena, Little Chena 2, Little Chena 3, Little Chena 4 and Little Chena 5, were discovered by air attack aircraft shortly after a thunderstorm passed through the area at around 3 p.m. Saturday.

Fire managers are currently assessing the new starts to prioritize which ones to deploy resources on. The Little Chena Fire is the closest to Chena Hot Springs Road and the community of Pleasant Valley.

The Little Chena 2 Fire is approximately three-quarters of a mile northeast of the Little Chena Fire; the Little Chena 4 Fire is roughly 3.2 miles north west of the Little Chena Fire; and the Little Chena 5 Fire is approximately 4.8 miles northwest of the Little Chena Fire. Fire managers are still trying to pinpoint the location of the Little Chena 3 Fire.

More resources are enroute to Fairbanks from Tok to assist with suppression efforts.

This is a developing situation and more information will be provided as it becomes available.

About Alaska Division of Forestry

Alaska Division of Forestry website: http://forestry.alaska.gov/ Mission: The Alaska Division of Forestry proudly serves Alaskans through forest management and wildland fire protection. The Wildland Fire and Aviation Program provides safe, cost-effective and efficient fire protection services and related fire and aviation management activities to protect human life and values on State, private and municipal lands. The wildland fire program cooperates with other wildland fire agencies on a statewide, interagency basis.

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