Smokejumpers and water-scooping airplanes were successful in subduing a wildfire burning in a mining district near Eureka about 77 miles northwest of Fairbanks Saturday afternoon.
The efforts eight BLM and U.S. Forest smokejumpers and two Single Engine Air Tractors, or Fire Boss as they’re referred to in Alaska, were successful in getting around the Omega Creek Fire (#181) and stop it from burning more than four acres. Firefighting personnel aboard an airplane helped coordinate the efforts on the ground and in the air. Unfortunately, a structure at the origin of the fire was reportedly destroyed when the fire ignited.
The wildfire was reported at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday by someone who spotted it while driving the Elliott Highway.
The fire is burning next to a Jeep trail within 3 miles west of where the road to Eureka meets the Elliott Highway between milepost 130-131 north of Fairbanks. The fire starting at an unoccupied mining operation. The fire was initially reported as creeping, smoldering through grass and leaf litter, with some torching of black spruce trees. A northeastern wind was pushing the fire toward a larger mine within a mile.
Firefighters anticipate it will take a few days of work to ensure the fire is completely out.
The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.
There have been 30 new wildfires reported in Alaska this week. That will likely increase as the warm, dry and windy conditions are predicted to continue in many parts of the state as we head into the heart of the Alaska fire season. With more than 1,700 lightning strikes reported today, fire officials urge people to be careful because unlike lightning-caused fires, human-caused fires are preventable.
Contact BLM Alaska Fire Service Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at (907)388-2159 for more information.