Smoke influx update with insights from McGrath on the Aghaluk Mountain Fire and Submarine Creek Fire: “A lightning storm on June 6th started numerous fires in southwest Alaska. Most of the fires are fairly small, but there are 50 wildfires burning and several over 20,000 acres burning in a wide area from Lake Minchumina, to Mountain Village, to Dillingham. An interagency effort is underway to protect structures, mines, native allotments, and other values threatened by several of these large fire. A change in wind direction bringing moisture and cooler air off of Bristol Bay may help to moderate some of the fire behavior in the coming days, but the vegetation is very dry and the fires continue to burn actively. This southwest flow of air is also carrying the smoke from these fires over the Alaska Range into Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley.
Only three of the fires are currently staffed with additional resources arriving from the Lower 48 and Canada to augment the Alaskan firefighting resources. Six water scooping aircraft from BC arrived yesterday to assist with the suppression efforts. The Aghaluk Mountain Fire (94,953 acres) is 10 miles southwest of Sleetmute along the Kuskokwim River. Firefighters from the DOF and the BLM Alaska Fire Service are on the ground in Sleetmute preparing to protect that community should the fire advance that fire in the coming days. The Submarine Creek Fire (17,920 acres) is 6 miles northwest of Medfra. On June 6th the fire burned through the Nixon Fork Mine, damaging the facility and mining infrastructure. Firefighters are working with the locals have secured the remaining infrastructure and are working to preparing to defend the Medfra community should the fire advance to the southeast. Six Fire Boss aerial firefighting resources were working the 16 acre Pauls Creek Fire (219). The Alaska Type 2 Green Team is managing the East Fork Fire (121,831 acres) near St Mary’s, and the Alaska Type 2 Black Team is being mobilized to help managing many of the fires between the Kuskokwim River and Dillingham.”
The US National Weather Service Anchorage Alaska has been posting webcam images showing the smoke patterns as the winds push the towards Southcentral. Air quality has worsened this afternoon across the area and you can visit https://www.airnow.gov/ for more information on air quality.