Weekend wildfire starts prove dry conditions still exist in parts of Alaska

Firefighters quickly contained a pair of new wildfires near Delta Junction over the weekend proving that the wildfire season lingers in some parts of Eastern Alaska.

Smoke rising up from a forest with a river in the background.
The Goodpaster Fire (#423) was spotted burning between the Tanana and Goodpaster rivers on Saturday, Aug. 14. Photo by Arthur Cummings, Alaska wildlife trooper

While flying over the area, an Alaska Wildlife Trooper spotted the Goodpaster Fire (#423) burning between the Tanana and the Goodpaster rivers about three miles northeast of the end of Jack Warren Road Saturday. A module of emergency firefighters from Hooper Bay prepositioned in Delta Junction and an Alaska Division of Forestry helitack crew quickly responded to the fire burning in a mixture of hardwoods and spruce. The fire was considered contained and controlled at half an acre Sunday afternoon. The 13 firefighters were still gridding for hot spots today before considering it completely extinguished by end of shift today or tomorrow.

Meanwhile, BLM Alaska Fire Service smokejumpers quickly contained a fire burning about 2.5 miles southeast of Healy Lake Sunday. The Healy Lake Fire (#424) was spotted Saturday afternoon by personnel aboard the DOF helicopter working on the Goodpastor Fire. Five smokejumpers quickly got around the fire and contained it to .2 of an acre. Due to the lack of other smokejumpers available to respond to other new fires and rain predicted over the fire area, they were released from the fire. Instead the DOF helicopter dropped several loads of water to quell fire behavior before it was placed in monitor status.

The pair of fires are suspected holdover fires from lightning-strikes weeks ago as dry conditions still exist in the Delta and Tok areas. The Delta Junction area reported only receiving a mist of moisture over the weekend while many other parts of the state continue to be saturated by rain. Firefighters on scene of the Goodpaster Fire reported the moss and other ground layers were dry down to the mineral soil, providing a bed for lightning strikes to smolder until either the temperatures warms, vegetation dries and wind breathes life into the hot spot.

Due to still present dry conditions, people recreating or hunting in these areas should be careful their activities do not start a wildfire. Make sure the area around warming or campfires is cleared of any vegetation and make sure it is dead out before you leave.

Burn permits are still required for any large- or small-scale burning to include burn barrels, lawn burning and brush and debris pile burning until Aug. 31. You can obtain a burn permit at most Alaska fire departments or online at https://dnr.alaska.gov/burn/. Please check with your local Forestry Office to see if there is a burn suspension in place due to high fire danger.

For more information, contact the Alaska Interagency Fire Information Office at (907)356-5511.

Map showing the two new wildfires in relation to Delta Junction.
The Goodpaster Fire (#423) and the Healy Lake Fire (#424) ignited near Delta Junction over the weekend.


Categories: AK Fire Info, Alaska DNR - Division of Forestry (DOF)

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