The Alaska Type 2 Incident Management Black Team under Incident Commander Ed Sanford has been mobilized to assist fire managers and fire personnel defending villages, lodges, cabins, native allotments, mining infrastructure and other values at risk in southwest Alaska. In addition to mobilizing resources from the Lower 48 and Canada to assist suppression efforts, this interagency effort will establish and maintain supply chains, remote fueling depots for aviation assets, and will help identify additional cabins, lodges and other values at risk threatened by these remote interior lightning caused wildfires. With 40 million acres of land in this one area, the aerial reconnaissance flights alone take significant amounts of time. The team is made up of wildfire specialists from Alaska and the Lower 48 and includes career smokejumpers and hotshots who have extended experience working in this and other remote and challenging areas of Alaska. Tactics will include dropping paracargo to outfit and re-supply fire personnel currently on the ground who are actively protecting infrastructure and villages from several fires around Lime Village, Port Alsworth, Nondalton, Dillingham, Napaimute, Stony River, Red Devil, Sleetmute, Georgetown, Crooked Creek, and the King Salmon area. Both yesterday and today aerial observers and Operations Section Chiefs are scouting the area using fixed wing aircraft as the Alaska Black IMT assumes command tomorrow morning at 8 a.m.
The McGrath Area Office continues to manage the Iowithla River Fire (#237) burning 10 miles east of Dillingham and the Submarine Creek Fire (#220) burning 45 miles west of Telida. The Black IMT will support the McGrath Area Office in every way possible as all fire managers in southwest have logistical supply and refueling challenges that require ongoing teamwork and coordination.
The Iowithla River Fire (#237) is currently 19,446 acres. The fire spread to a creek on its western flank. McGrath-based DOF fire managers are using water scooper aircraft to reinforce this natural barrier to impede the westward progress of the fire.
The Submarine Creek Fire (#220) is currently 20,405 acres and has 27 fire personnel working on protecting structures and values at risk. Fire personnel at the Nixon Fork Mine site continued to work on mop up around structures. A radio repeater was installed at the mine site to improve communications between Medfra and Nixon Fork. The Yukon Fire Crew continued to work around structures in Medfra, completing setting up defenses for one group of structures and they are moving on to additional sites.
Here are updates for two of the wildfires in the Black IMT’s planning area.
The Aghaluk Mountain Fire (#206) is currently 94,953 acres with 41 fire personnel assigned. The fire is located 51 miles east of Aniak. The Pioneer Peak Interagency Hotshot Crew has been on site working for several days and continues structure protection in the area. The Winema Interagency Hotshot Crew arrived on the fire Tuesday evening and was briefed by the Incident Commander. Rain fell Monday night and into Tuesday morning, amounting to 0.1 inch. The Pike Creek Fire (#239) located 23 miles northwest of Iliamna Lake is currently 25,967 acres with 8 personnel assigned. The Incident Commander reports that the preparation work to defend structures is progressing. Light precipitation fell during the afternoon Tuesday. Aerial reconnaissance reported the fire to be creeping in tundra. No values at risk were reported to be threatened. This fire burned together with the 29,516 acres Koktuli River Fire (#240) for a combined total of 55,483 acres for fires #239 and #240. Weather is expected to continue to moderate for a short period of time.