Eight BLM Alaska Fire Service smokejumpers and Helitack firefighters from Tok and Delta worked late into the night Thursday trying to corral a 20-acre, lightning-caused fire that ignited late in the afternoon less than 1 mile from George Lake about 40 miles southeast of Delta Junction.
The George Lake Fire (#225) was reported by a private pilot just before 5 p.m. Thursday. The fire is burning in black spruce near the northeast corner of George Lake on what is known locally as “Grandpa Cummings Knoll.” George Lake has several cabins located around it but no structures are considered threatened at this time.
A team of eight smokejumpers from the BLM Alaska Fire Service and nine Helitack firefighters from state forestry stations in Delta and Tok were deployed on the fire. Two air tankers made multiple retardant drops around the fire to fence it in with retardant and slow its spread potential. Two helicopters were used to make water bucket drops on the fire to slow its spread.
Firefighters worked until about 2 o’clock this morning cutting a fire break around the fire and make it about halfway around the fire before bedding down for the night. The retardant and water drops significantly reduced fire behavior and fire behavior was described as “smoldering and creeping” as of late Thursday night.
Today, water-scoopers will continue to drop water on the fire while smokejumpers will work on completing the saw line around the fire and and start lining he perimeter of the fire with hose. The closest water source is a little more than halfway from the fire so it will require lengthy hose lay to get water on the fire.
The Baker River Hotshots, one of five crews that arrived in Fairbanks from the Lower 48 on Thursday, will be shuttled into the fire by helicopter today to assist with suppression.