Weather calms fires in northeast Alaska as number of assigned personnel increases

Large plume of smoke billowing from a forest in back of a pond.
The Marten Creek Fire was very active when this photo was taken about 3:46 p.m. on Monday, July 26, 2021. Photo by Melissa Sorenson, BLM AFS

Fort Yukon and Venetie will see an influx of firefighting personnel in the next couple of days to work on wildfires burning in northeastern Alaska. BLM Alaska Fire Service will establish a Type 3 management organization in Fort Yukon to oversee efforts on the 813-acre Marten Creek Fire (#386) burning about 12.5 miles east of Venetie since Sunday. Pushed by wind through continuous black spruce, the fire grew substantially on Monday, causing the 12 smokejumpers that had originally deployed Sunday to suppress the fire to pull back to reassess tactics on Monday. Despite the best efforts of the initial group of smokejumpers, four water-scooping airplanes and an Alaska Division of Forestry fire retardant tanker on Sunday, the fire quickly grew to 350 acres that day, then another 500 on Monday.

The Marten Creek Fire (#386) is burning about 12.5 miles east of Venetie. Click on map for PDF version.

Eight of these smokejumpers demobilized from the Marten Creek Fire on Monday and took action on the Discovery Creek Fire (#388) burning in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge about 30 miles northwest of Venetie. This 69-acre fire is threatening a Native allotment near the confluence of the Chekhechunnjik Creek and the North Fork of the East Fork Teedriinjik (Chandalar) River. These smokejumpers conducted a burn operation to remove burnable vegetation, creating a protective buffer for this allotment. There are other allotments and a structure farther from the fire that the smokejumpers believe have a low probably of being impacted, especially since the area will see calmer weather in the upcoming days.

The Discovery Creek Fire is burning on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge about 30 miles northwest of Venetie.

Meanwhile, the BLM AFS training crew, the North Star Fire Crew, and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanook Fire Crew, are scheduled to join the effort on the Marten Creek Fire in the upcoming days. Weather moderated today as the four remaining smokejumpers and additional firefighting personnel will assess the nearby sites of value and formulate plans to protect them from the lightning-caused fire burning on Venetie Indian And Neets Ai Corporation lands.

While much of the state will likely see substantial rainfall in the next few days, the Yukon Flats will, like usual, remain the driest in Alaska. Parts of the Yukon Flats may see some scattered precipitation that meteorologists predict should only slow the fire season in the area a couple of days. The rain is not predicted to be enough to penetrate the deeper ground layers. Then, by Thursday, a drying trend will return in Eastern Alaska.

Due to recent lightning throughout the Upper Yukon Zone that covers the northeastern section of BLM AFS protection area, firefighting personnel will fly the area to detect new fires. So far this year, an estimated 208,703 acres burned in 346 fires across Alaska, Of that, the Upper Yukon Zone, which encompasses 51 million acres, has had 46,869 acres burned in 31 fires.

For more information, contact BLM AFS Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at (907)356-5510 or

Map of northeastern Alaska showing lightning recorded July 24-27 as black arrows and fires as red dots.
Map of northeastern Alaska showing lightning recorded July 24-27 as black arrows and fires as red dots.

Categories: Active Wildland Fire, BLM Alaska Fire Service

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