Firefighters working on Marten Creek Fire extinguish new human-caused fire near Venetie

Firefighters aboard a helicopter working in support of the Marten Creek Fire were able to contain a new fire discovered within 2.3 miles of Venetie Saturday. Shortly after taking off from Venetie just before 3 p.m. Saturday, firefighters spotted what initially seemed like smoke from a campfire. As the smoke column grew larger, the firefighters realized it was a new wildfire burning through black spruce and tundra near a trail leading to the village. The initial six firefighters were able to contain the Tinjikvun Fire (#396) at .10 of an acre by 4:30 p.m. Afterwards, 10 BLM Alaska Fire Service North Star firefighters were pulled from constructing an indirect fire break around Venetie to help extinguish any remaining hot spots. The new fire was considered out at 9:43 a.m. Sunday.

Map showing location of new fire in relation to the village of Venetie.
Map showing location of Tinjikvun Fire (#396) that started on July 31, 2021. The fire was located near a trail about 2.3 miles northwest of the village of Venetie. It was quickly spotted by firefighters aboard a flight in support of the Marten Creek Fire. These firefighters, plus 10 North Star firefighters that were doing work in Venetie, were able to put the fire out on Aug. 1, 2021. It is suspected to be human-caused.

This fire is considered human caused and could have quickly threatened nearby Venetie if it weren’t for the timing of the helicopter flight and quick action by firefighters. It’s a good reminder that the dry and hot conditions in the Yukon Flats make the area susceptible to new fire starts. People are encouraged to take precautions to ensure their activities don’t start a new wildfire and make sure your campfire is dead out.

Meanwhile, work continues on the Marten Creek Fire (#386) and the Discovery Creek Fire (#388). Firefighters managing efforts on the Marten Creek Fire burning about 13 miles east of Venetie met with community members Friday and received valuable input on plans to construct additional fuel breaks around the village. The 21-person North Star Crew is already clearing out brush on an indirect fire break established around the northeastern side of the village in 2004. Fire managers plan on improving this existing control line and utilizing existing barriers such as roads to extend the fire break to help protect Venetie from this and future wildfires. Elsewhere, smokejumpers completed work on three historical cabins near the fire to include clearing burnable vegetation and assessing equipment needs in case the fire threatens these cabins. The closest cabin is 4.5 miles from the fire’s edge.

A fire break constructed around part of the village of Venetie as seen from the air.
Firefighters are cleaning up an indirect fire break established around Venetie in 2004. Photo from July 31, 2021.

Fire behavior was minimal Saturday with smoldering and backing through mostly white spruce on the northern section of the fire as it continues to progress east and away from Venetie. The weather is predicted to remain hot and dry through at least Thursday to keep the fire actively burning through spruce trees and tundra.

Smoke rising from a area burned from the Marten Creek Fire on July 31, 2021.
Fire activity was moderate Saturday, July 31, 2021 on the Marten Creek Fire (#386) burning about 13 miles east of Venetie.

After finishing its work constructing a saw line around a Native allotment directly threatened by the Discovery Creek Fire, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanook Fire Crew will move to Venetie today to help the North Star Crew. The seven remaining smokejumpers will continue work on the fire that is burning directly north of the allotment sitting at the confluence of the Chekhechunnjik Creek and the North Fork of the East Fork of the Teedriinjik (Chandalar) River. They reported the fire area received consistent rain on Saturday, substantially moderating fire activity on the 332-acre fire as it burns mostly along the along the creek and river’s edge. They will continue to monitor areas of concern and weigh options to ensure the fire doesn’t impact the allotment. This fire is about 30 miles northwest of Venetie in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

FireCauseStart DateEstimated AcresPersonnel Assigned as of 7/31
Marten CreekLightningJuly 2562535
Discovery CreekLightningJuly 2633228

Categories: Active Wildland Fire, AK Fire Info, BLM Alaska Fire Service

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