More firefighters will join the effort on two fires burning in northeastern Alaska near Venetie in the upcoming days. The BLM Alaska Fire Service North Star Crew mobilized to Venetie today to help take steps to clean up an old fire break around the village to protect it from the Marten Creek Fire (#386) burning about 13 miles to the east. Firefighters are also assessing steps to take to protect three historical structures to the south of the fire. Despite receiving light precipitation on Tuesday with more predicted today, the fire was fairly active with considerable growth to the east due to continuous black spruce. The estimated number of acres burned is 625, a decrease in acreage due to better mapping.
The University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanook Fire Crew will head north to help smokejumpers working on the Discovery Creek Fire (#388) burning in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge about 30 miles northwest of Venetie. Smokejumpers are securing lines around a burn operation conducted to protect a Native allotment immediately to the south of the fire. The Nanook Crew will help saw a control line around the threatened allotment sitting at the confluence of the Chekhechunnjik Creek and the North Fork of the East Fork of the Teedriinjik (Chandalar) River. There are other allotments and a structure farther from the fire that the smokejumpers believe have a low probably of being immediately impacted.
A weather front is predicted to bring spotty rainfall to both fires today that won’t do much to dampen the dry fuels in the Yukon Flats. This front will also bring southwesterly winds that could be breezy at times, according to the National Weather Service. The chance for rain will lessen on Thursday and warmer temperatures will return.
Fort Yukon will also see an influx of firefighting personnel. The BLM AFS is establishing a Type 3 organization to manage the two lightning-caused fires. The Marten Creek Fire was discovered on Sunday. Despite the best efforts of the initial group of 12 smokejumpers, four water-scooping airplanes and an Alaska Division of Forestry fire retardant tanker on Sunday, the fire quickly grew as wind pushed it through black spruce.
The fire grew beyond the scope of being able to suppress, causing the smokejumpers to pull back to the BLM AFS fire station in Fort Yukon on Monday. The goal then became to protect Venetie and identify other sites of value to safeguard. Eight of these smokejumpers demobilized from the Marten Creek Fire on Monday and took action on the 80-acre Discovery Creek Fire.
For more information, contact BLM Alaska Fire Service Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at (907)356-5510 or firstname.lastname@example.org