State forestry mobilizes more than 30 firefighters to Minto Lakes Fire west of Fairbanks; Rosie Creek and Salcha River fires fully contained

The Alaska Division of Forestry mobilized two crews to a new wildfire in Minto Flats on Monday while wrapping up work on two other small wildfires in the Fairbanks area.

Smoke rising up from a fire with the Tanana River in the background.
A photo of the Minto Lakes Fire (#186) 50 miles west of Fairbanks at approximately 7 p.m. Sunday, about 1 hour after it was reported. The Tanana River is in the background. Tim Whitesell/Division of Forestry Air Attack

The 28-acre Minto Lakes Fire was reported at approximately 6 p.m. Sunday by multiple callers who could see smoke from the Parks Highway just north of Nenana. Multiple aircraft were called in to make water and retardant drops on and around the fire to slow its progession. Four Fairbanks Area Forestry Helitack firefighters were inserted and a load of eight smokejumpers from the BLM Alaska Fire Service were also deployed on the fire to begin suppression.

The fire is located in a Full protection area approximately 50 miles west of Fairbanks and 18 miles south of Minto. The fire is less than one-half mile north of the Tanana River. There are multiple Native allotments within a few miles of the fire to the east.

A burned area with minimal smoke showing after multiple water and retardant drops by aircraft,
A photo of the Minto Lakes Fire (#186) at approximately 9 p.m. Sunday, June 13, 2021 following water and retardant drops by multiple aircraft. The red area to the left of the fire are retardant lines to hold the fire in check in that direction. Tim Whitesell/Division of Forestry Air Attack

The aerial assault proved effective in knocking down the fire Sunday night and fire managers reported no significant growth overnight. Retardant lines have been effective in holding the fire in check until crews on the ground arrive to begin building containment line.

Helicopters flew in the 23-man Type 2 North Star Crew from the BLM Alaska Fire Service and a 10-person initial attack module from Fairbanks Area Forestry on Monday afternoon to strengthen ground forces for constructing containment line. The two crews and smokejumpers spent the day searching for hot spots along the edge of the fire to secure containment lines. There was some smoke in the interior fire where unburned fuels were occasionally burning but those spots did not pose a threat to containment lines.

A staging area has set up in Nenana at the airport. Fire managers expect the two crews will be sufficient to meet 100 percent suppression of the fire. Helitack firefighters were released from the fire on Monday to be available for initial attack on new fires and the smokejumpers will be released Tuesday.

The cause of the Minto Lakes Fire undetermined at this point and is under investigation.

A map showing the location of the Minto Lakes Fire (#186) approximately 50 miles west of Fairbanks.
A map showing the location of the Minto Lakes Fire (#186) approximately 50 miles west of Fairbanks.

Two other fires in the Fairbanks Area are in the process of being demobilized after firefighters completed containment.

Rosie Creek Fire

The 1-acre Rosie Creek Fire (#174) 14 miles southwest of Fairbanks was declared out at 11:22 a.m. on Monday and all personnel have been released from that fire.

The Rosie Creek Fire was reported at 1:35 p.m. Saturday by a pilot less than a mile north of the Tanana River following several lightning strikes seen in the area. Fairbanks Area Forestry responded quickly with water bombing aircraft, a helicopter and a four-person Helitack load. Water drops proved highly effective in knocking down the fire. By 4 p.m. the fire was producing very little smoke and the North Star Crew was flown in to mop up. All personnel were demobilized from the fire by noon Monday. The cause of the Rosie Creek Fire remains undetermined and is under investigation.

Salcha River Fire

The 7-acre Salcha River Fire (#169), meanwhile, was declared 100 percent contained as of Sunday night. That fire was started by lightning on June 9 about 50 miles southeast of Fairbanks and 25 air miles up the Salcha River from the Richardson Highway. It was about one-quarter mile south of the river with multiple cabins in the area on both sides of the river.

Water bombing aircraft responded quickly and aggressively, making multiple water drops on the fire to douse flames and slow its progress until firefighters could be mobilized on the ground. The Tanana Chiefs Crew was demobilized from the fire on Monday. The White Mountain Crew spent the day Monday gridding the fire for any hidden hot spots in the interior and will be released tomorrow.

Categories: AK Fire Info

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