Firefighters anticipate a second day high activity on fires burning in northeastern Alaska. Firefighters on the Marten Creek Fire (#386) and the Discovery Creek Fire (#388) burning in the Yukon Flats reported the fires were still actively burning well into Tuesday evening.
Northeasterly winds pushed Marten Creek Fire almost two miles closer to Venetie as it almost doubled in size. The prolonged hot, dry spell has dried out the vegetation to the point that firefighters witnessed it burn not only the normally receptive spruce trees and tundra grass, but hardwoods which typically have a higher moisture content. It was reported Tuesday as creeping, running with group torching and putting up a lot of smoke that impacted Venetie located nine miles to the southwest. Management of the Marten Creek Fire is moving back to a Type 3 organization to help with the logistical needs to coordinate firefighting efforts. Meanwhile, the BLM Alaska Fire Service North Star Crew continues to work on indirect fire breaks to protect Venetie.
Fire danger remains high in the Yukon Flats due to lingering dry conditions. Today’s forecast includes temperatures in the high 70s with northeast winds near 10 mph for the Marten Creek Fire. Temperatures are expected to cool down to the 60s by Friday, giving the Yukon Flats a reprieve over the weekend from the hot, dry weather.
The University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanook Fire Crew was moved to the nearby Discovery Creek Fire to help smokejumpers maintain a buffer to protect a Native allotment directly to the south of the fire at the confluence of the Chekhechunnjik Creek and the North Fork of the East Fork of the Teedriinjik (Chandalar) River. This fire is about 30 miles northwest of Venetie in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It also became active Tuesday with most of the movement to the northwest and away from the allotment. The biggest concern is the fire will eventually cross the dry Chekhechunnjik Creek to the west and hook around to impact the allotment. Firefighters are busy cutting a saw line and installing a system of water hose around the allotment to help keep the fire at bay. The cooler weather and cloud cover forecasted this weekend should help those efforts. After putting in a day of work, fire managers will move at least part of the Nanook Crew back to the Marten Creek Fire to help with constructing new fire breaks to protect the village from this and future fires.
Other fires in northeast Alaska also experienced fire growth and movement with two new wildfires discovered this week. The 25-acre Whitefish Lake Fire (#405) is burning in the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge about 47 miles southeast of Chalkyitsik. This lightning-caused fire was discovered Tuesday. The South Fork Fire (#399) burning about 22 miles southeast of Central was discovered on Sunday. This lightning-caused fire is estimated at 200 acres. Both new fires are burning in a limited management option area and were placed in monitor status.
|Fire||Cause||Start Date||Estimated Acres||Personnel Assigned as of 7/31|
|Marten Creek||Lightning||July 25||1,053||30|
|Discovery Creek||Lightning||July 26||872||27|