With structure protection in place for more than a dozen cabins and outbuildings in the potential path of the About Mountain Fire, firefighters battling the nearly 2,100-acre wildfire in Southwest Alaska are turning their attention to building control lines and increasing containment.
Containment on the fire burning along the Kuskokwim River approximately 6 miles south of the community of McGrath was reported at 20 percent as of Saturday morning, a jump of 18 percent from Friday. Fire size remains at an estimated 2,066 acres. There are currently 96 personnel working on the fire.
The fire has not increased in size for the past two days, thanks in part to rain on Thursday and cooler weather that has reduced the fire to a smolder. Crews are taking advantage of cooler, wetter weather to aggressively attack the edges of the fire to keep it from flaring up and spreading toward McGrath or the cluster of cabins and outbuildings that make up the Cranberry Ridge subdivision about 3miles north of the fire. Firefighters have cleared brush around the structures and set up sprinklers that can be turned on if the fire threatens them.
Resources working on the fire include 24 smokejumpers from the BLM Alaska Fire Service, the Division of Forestry’s Pioneer Peak Hotshot Crew and two Type 2 contract hand crews.
Crews are spread out along the fire perimeter working to secure the edge and have begun mopping up the blaze, which is believed to have been started by an abandoned campfire that was not fully extinguished.
“Today we’ll be working crews around the fire to secure the edge and starting mop up,” Incident Commander Pat Johnson, one of the smokejumpers working on the fire, said.
The fire is burning in a combination of dead, down timber and black spruce. There are numerous natural barriers that are helping to slow its growth, such as the Kuskokwim River, sloughs, lakes, wetlands and an old burn scar.