With little rain in sight, work continues on Yukon Flats fires

(FAIRBANKS, Alaska) – Firefighters continue to work toward containment of fires in northeastern Alaska with no new fires reported in the area for the second day in a row. While rain moves through many parts of Alaska, the Yukon Flats and patches on the south side on the Seward Peninsula in Western Alaska continue to be the dry spots of the state. Little rain was recorded in areas north of the Yukon River, but cloud cover and higher humidity levels have kept fire activity subdued, giving crews a hand in getting closer to containment goals.

This slide from the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center Weather Briefing on June 21, 2020
This slide from the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center Weather Briefing on June 21, 2020 shows the dry spots for Alaska. The Upper Yukon Zone, or specifically the Yukon Flats area, is in the very high range with forecasts indicating they will continue to climb.

The fires in the Yukon Flats, however, will have another breezy day with a wind switch from the northeast to the southwest today. This may bode well for firefighters working on the Porcupine Fire (#249) about 17 miles northeast of Fort Yukon as winds will push it toward the river. There are 60 people working on getting this fire contained and keeping it from Native allotments and structures within a mile of the 190-acre fire. The goal today is to ensure hot spots are extinguished 75 feet within the fire edge and making sure all spot fires that ignited outside the perimeter are out. This fire is considered 75% contained.

The BLM Alaska Fire Service Midnight Sun Interagency Hotshots and 20 smokejumpers have been busy mopping up the Flooded Lake Fire (#288) burning 25 miles northeast of Venetie. Sixteen smokejumpers will return to Fairbanks today. This fire is 9 acres and 40% contained. It is burning in thick, dog-hair black spruce. There are no nearby water sources to aid the process of extinguishing hot spots. In addition, firefighters must pause work and seek open spaces during periods of gusty winds that topple trees. This makes the mop-up tedious as crews work to contain the fire.

The Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments, or CATG Type 2 contract crew is continuing mop up activities on the Ninemile Lake Fire (#270) with the intent of finishing work today and demobilizing tomorrow. The 20-person crew and two smokejumpers will do one last day of grid-searching for hotspots before calling this entire 10-acre fire contained and controlled to help ensure it won’t spring back to life later in the summer. The 20-acre Ninemile Lake fire was started by lightning on Monday and is burning about 30 miles south of Fort Yukon.

With the exception of the Any Creek Fire burning north of Fairbanks, the other four staffed fires are within the BLM AFS Upper Yukon Zone (UYD) boundary to include the three above and the Isom Creek Fire (#187) burning near the Dalton Highway Yukon River Crossing. There are 18 active fires burning in this Zone that encompasses almost 52 million acres in the northeastern Alaska starting at the Canadian border. Most fires in the region are being monitored and are not threatening people or property.

There were no new fires reported across the state Saturday. So far this year, 258 fires have burned approximately 163,797 acres.

For more information, contact the Alaska Interagency Fire Information Office at (907)356-5511.

Unless conditions change, this will be the last update on these fires.

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Correction to original post: The Willamette National Forest (Oregon) Type 2 Initial Attack Crew will not mobilize to the Flooded Lake Fire today.

Map of fires in Alaska.
There were no new fires reported across the state Saturday. So far this year, 258 fires have burned approximately 163,797 acres. There are 100 active fires (red dots) in Alaska as of June 21, 2020. Click on map or link to go to Alaska Wildland Fire Information Map online.

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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