Fire activity increases on Yukon Flats fires Tuesday

A rainbow touched down on an area burned by the Marten Creek Fire.
A rainbow touches down on the Marten Creek Fire (#386) burning about 10 miles northeast of Venetie on Aug. 10, 2021. Photo by Beth Ipsen, BLM AFS

There was an uptick in fire behavior on the pair of fires burning in the Yukon Flats Tuesday as firefighters continue to work to protect Native allotments, historical cabins and the village of Venetie. The fire activity has been building for three days in a row due to the sunshine, temperatures in the 60s and lack of rain. The Marten Creek Fire (#386) burning about 10 miles northeast of Venetie received shots of rain Tuesday afternoon and two hours of constant drizzle Wednesday morning to settle it down. However, it has yet to receive substantial widespread rain to put the fire out.

Smoke drifting up from edges of a burned area.
This photo of the Marten Creek Fire was taken from the southwest edge of the fire looking northeast at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 10. The photo shows the finger crews will construct a containment line along the southern edge. Photo by Chris Friar, BIA

Once again, two water-dropping airplanes worked the edge of the fire Tuesday to keep things cool ahead of the Tanana Chiefs Type 2 Initial Attack (T2IA) Crew and Alaska Division of Forestry’s White Mountain T2IA Crew working to secure the southwest corner. The goal is to limit the spread toward historical cabins four to six miles to the south and Venetie 10 miles to the southwest. The White Mountain Crew cut an indirect saw line from a lake on the southeast edge. The two crews had planned on building containment lines on opposite sides of a finger of burned land on the southwestern corner. Fire managers changed tactics and are moving the TCC Crew to join up with White Mountain today to concentrate on building a containment line along the southern edge of the fire starting from the indirect line anchored to the lake.

Smoke drifting up from a burned area with a lake in the bottom right corner.
The White Mountain Type 2 Initial Attack Fire Crew built an indirect saw line from the lake to the Marten Creek Fire’s southwester edge that will anchor a more direct control line. The containment line will run west along the southern edge of the fire and eventually tie into another containment line built by the Tanana Chiefs Fire Crew on the north side of a finger on the fire’s southwest edge. Photo by Beth Ipsen, BLM AFS

The BLM Alaska Fire Service North Star Crew finished connecting 3.4 miles of fire breaks around the village and will demobilize today. That will leave a handful of firefighting support personnel in Venetie and Fort Yukon while the bulk of people are located in the fire areas. The Marten Creek Fire and the Discovery Creek Fire (#388) 30 miles northwest of Venetie are the only two staffed fires in Alaska.

Fire behavior significantly increased on the Discovery Creek Fire Tuesday afternoon, mostly on the south end near a Native allotment at the confluence of the Chekhechunnjik Creek and the North Fork of the East Fork of the Teedriinjik (Chandalar) River. The fire has a mixture of BLM Alaska Fire Service smokejumpers and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanook Fire Crew mopping up and securing fireline around the allotment. They’re also monitoring the fire in the Coal Creek drainage to the southwest using drone and helicopter flights. Firefighters tried to take advantage of favorable winds and weather to conduct a burn operation to the south of the allotment. This would remove the unburned vegetation ahead of the fire in a controlled manner and create a protective buffer much like what they did on the north and west side of the allotment. However, the weather changed and prevented them from completing the burnout.

Photo of fire area with minimal smoke as shot from a plane over the Discovery Creek Fire.
Fire activity picked up Aug. 10 2021 on the Discovery Creek fire (#388) burning about 30 miles northwest of Venetie in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This photo was shot from a plane flying to the southeast of the fire. Photo by Beth Ipsen, BLM AFS

A moist southwest flow pattern over Interior Alaska will keep the fire areas cool and wet through the end of the week according to the National Weather Service. There is a chance of thunderstorms over both fires this evening as the forecast predicts gusty winds with erratic winds near thunderstorms. The winds are forecasted to be predominately out of the southwest, which should be favorable for pushing the Marten Creek Fire away from Venetie.

About a dozen community members met with fire managers from the BLM AFS Upper Yukon Management Zone and the Marten Creek Fire at the Sitsuu Sarah Frank Community Center in Venetie Tuesday afternoon to talk about the two fires, the fuel breaks cut around Venetie and wildland fire management in Alaska.

  • A firefighter standing in front of a table talking to two people.
  • Three men talking while looking at a map on a table.
  • A male firefighter talking to two people on a four wheeler.
  • Two men standing on a porch watching the rain fall.
Fire Cause Start Date Estimated Acres Personnel Assigned 
Marten Creek Lightning July 25 2,66268
Discovery Creek Lightning July 26 7,69625

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

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