Firefighters, aircraft make quick work of fires in Western Alaska

Smoke coming up from tunra fire.
The Little Noatak Slough burned about 15 acres north of the mouth of the Noatak River north of Kotzebue (seen at top of photo) on June 19, 2021. Photo by Ryan McPherson, BLM AFS

Smokejumpers and aircraft quickly subdued a pair of lightning-caused tundra fires in western Alaska Saturday evening. The Goblet Creek Fire (#241) was reported burning about 10 miles southwest of Grayling and the Little Noatak Slough Fire (#240) was reported burning north of the Noatak River Delta across the inlet and about 13 miles north of Kotzebue. Both were burning in the BLM Alaska Fire Service’s Galena Fire Management Zone that covers an area in Western Alaska from the North Slope south to the Yukon River; and from the west coast east to the border of the Tanana Zone. At approximately 93.5 million acres, this is the largest BLM AFS Fire Management Zone.  

The Kotzebue Flight Service Station reported the Little Noatak Slough Fire Saturday afternoon. The fire was within the Cape Krusenstern National Monument, but burning within two miles of a cluster of Native allotments. Eight smokejumpers and two water-scooping Fire Boss aircraft aggressively attacked the fire and were able to use a slough to hold the fire to 15 acres. The smokejumpers will continue to work on the fire and ensure all hot spots are extinguished and calling it out before leaving today.

Meanwhile, four smokejumpers were able to quickly corral the 2-acre Goblet Creek Fire and plan to demobilize today. The lightning-caused fire was burning on BLM-managed land. The fire was spotted by BLM AFS personnel during a flight through the region to detect new fires after lightning rolled through the area.

Four smokejumpers are also demobilizing today after a few days of work on the 1.5-acre Bear Creek Fire (#224) burning about 40 miles southeast of Unalakleet. This lightning-caused fire was reported on Thursday. It was burning in white spruce to the west of the Eagle Island and about five miles from a cluster of Native allotments along the Yukon River.

Of the 222 fires that have burned an estimated 23,000 acres across Alaska by the end of Saturday, 13 have burned less than 100 acres in the Galena Fire Management Zone. Most burned in a limited management option area and were placed in monitor status.

Categories: Active Wildland Fire, AK Fire Info

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