Fairbanks, Alaska: Firefighters demobilized from the Cultas Creek Fire Thursday after finishing up work to protect historical cabins in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve about 50 miles northwest of Eagle. Fire behavior on the 38,202-acre fire continues to moderate, allowing firefighters to leave some equipment in place on historical cabins at Ben and Sam Creeks. If fire activity picks up again, firefighters can return and quickly water down the cabins and nearby areas to keep the fire at bay.
Firefighters have also kept an eye on a cluster of fires burning since July 21 north of the Yukon River near the northeastern border of the Preserve. The Red Stream (#372), Nation River (#371) and Hard Luck (#370) fires were caused by lightning and have burned an estimated combined 316 acres. Because they are in a limited management option area and are not threatening any nearby sites of value, they are being allowed to burn. Fire in Alaska’s boreal forest is an essential process that restores ecosystem health and maintains species diversity.
Hunters and recreationalists are urged to be cautious when traveling through an area where fires are still active. The Charley and Yukon Rivers are currently safe to float, but people should avoid hiking, hunting or camping in the wildfire area due to hazards that include:
· Hazard trees or snags tend to pose the most imminent threat. Spruce trees and others with shallow root systems can topple over without warning.
· People are more likely to be aware of obstacles on the ground but don’t often look up to assess danger.
·Smoke may also be present in the area that could cause difficulty breathing, sore eyes, coughing and can lead to more serious lung problems the longer you are exposed.
· Burned-out stump holes can weaken the ground surface and are subject to failure.
· Loose rocks and logs are unpredictable and present the hazard of rolling debris.
· Some wildfires leave behind ash pits that could hide holes and burning embers.
· Ash and fallen needles are slippery and can make for treacherous footing.
· Flash floods and mud flows may occur, especially in areas without vegetation.
· Depending on the burn severity, riverbanks could erode and deadfall trees could alter the course of the river.
Campfires are currently allowed in the Preserve, but the effects of an unattended campfire could last for many years. Fires must be kept small and be completely extinguished before leaving the area.
Additional park information is available by calling the Eagle Visitor Center at (907) 547-2343 or the Fairbanks Alaska Public Lands Information Center at (907) 459-3730.
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 423 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.