People in St. Mary’s will see an increase in firefighting activity in the upcoming days as the BLM Alaska Fire Service Chena Hotshot Crew mobilizes to the East Fork Fire (#160) burning about 20 miles to the north.
Due to hot, dry and windy conditions, the wildfire grew substantially to an estimated 20,000 acres in the past couple of days and has slowly progressed south along the Andreafsky River corridor toward St. Mary’s.
This lightning-caused fire started on May 31 and was originally burning in a limited management option area within the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. This option allows for management of wildfires to benefit the natural habitat as long as it doesn’t threaten any sites of value.
That changed a few days later. In response, eight smokejumpers deployed to protect a Native allotment and cabin from the fire on Thursday. Two more joined a few days later. A helicopter is staged in nearby St. Mary’s to provide support to the firefighters on the ground, sometimes shuttling them to other Native allotments to install protective measures such as water pump and hose system.
BLM AFS Galena Management Zone officials will work with refuge managers to keep close tabs on the situation and modify the response as needed. Meanwhile, the forecast predicts more of the same hot, dry weather in the upcoming days.
Click on link for original information and photos of the East Fork Fire.
Contact BLM Alaska Fire Service Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at (907)356-5510 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.