Lime Complex – 18 of the nearly 50 lightning caused wildfires burning in southwest Alaska have been named the Lime Complex. The Alaska Interagency Type 2 Black Incident Management Team has assumed command of a geographic group of wildfires as of 8 a.m. this morning. The landscape in Southwest Alaska is so large – 79 million acres – that even at 21.2 million acres the Black Team is managing only a portion of the landscape that was peppered with fires following the June 6th lightning event. The McGrath Area Office continues to manage several fires of significance in the Dillingham area including the Iowithla River Fire (#237), burning 10 miles east of Dillingham and the Submarine Creek Fire (#220), burning 45 miles west of Telida.
Due to the vastness of this area, many of these fires do not have Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) in place. However, a significant number of aircraft including fixed wing aerial observation platforms, general logistics aircraft and helicopters moving personnel, supplies and dropping water will be working all throughout southwest Alaska. We ask general aviation pilots and the public to remain vigilant of this increase of aircraft in the area. And as a reminder to drone pilots, “If You Fly, We Can’t”.
The highest priority for all fire managers is to defend villages, lodges, cabins, native allotments, mining infrastructure and other values at risk. Teamwork and coordination of logistical aircraft to move fuel, supplies and personnel remains a critical priority. Once fire personnel are inserted into these remote areas, the supply chains bringing fuel, hose, food and supplies must be maintained. Caution will be used by experienced fire specialists to avoid the operations outgrowing the supply chain. Alaska Fire Medics are being inserted in strategic remote locations to offer life saving care. The distance between these fires and definitive care in Anchorage is greater than the “Golden Hour” that is the national standard of emergency care. COVID precautions are being taken by all fire personnel and local village and tribal COVID protocols will be maintained. The villages of Aniak, Sleetmute and Lime Village have or will be seeing logistical, medical and fire personnel and supplies arrive over the next few days.
Three logistics specialists are being inserted into the village of Aniak today, and resources have been mobilized from the Lower 48 and Canada to assist both suppression and critical logistical supply efforts. A photo of the logistics personnel from the Alaska Black Team leaving Palmer Airport is attached to this post.
Smokejumpers that were inserted following the lightning bust have made several “saves”, as seen in the photograph taken yesterday. Depicted are structures that were successfully saved by a small group of smokejumpers at the Koktuli River Fire (#240). The Alaska Black IMT will lead the interagency effort to establish and maintain supply chains, remote fueling depots for aviation assets, and will help identify additional cabins, lodges and other values at risk.
Aerial observation flights will remain the primary strategy to monitor fire behavior and prioritize the placement of the smokejumpers, hot shots and fire support personnel. There will be regular updates on fires of significant threat and additional updates as aerial observation specialists determine fire suppression actions are needed to defend life and property.
Here are updates for several of the 18 fires in the 40 million acre area under the Black Team management. The complete list of fires under the Black Team management are 188, 189, 190, 193 197, 198, 205, 206, 207, 216, 228, 239, 240, 244, 245, 246, 247 and 273. As threats increase to values at risk, additional updates on suppression strategy and tactics for these will be shared.
The Aghaluk Mountain Fire (#206) currently has 37 fire personnel assigned and is located 51 miles east of Aniak. The Pioneer Peak Interagency Hotshot Crew continues structure protection and the remaining 13 members of the Winema Interagency Hotshot Crew have been inserted into the fire. Minimal fire activity was observed during aerial reconnaissance Wednesday. Structure preparation continues around Sleetmute with a focus on the structures on the east bank of the Kuskokwim River.
The Koktuli River Fire (#240) and Pike Creek Fire (#239): Located 23 miles northwest of Iliamna Lake, these two lightning caused fires burned together a few days ago. Eight fire personnel are focusing efforts on structure protection and Native allotment protection along the Koktuli River. The weather was warm and dry yesterday with fire activity observed during the flight. Boats and a helicopter are in place to support firefighters who are using a satellite radio while radio repeaters are put into place. The combined total for these fires is approximately 55,483 acres.
The Gagaryah River Fire (#197) and the Stony River Fire (#198) have burned together and are 20 miles southeast of Stony River. The total approximate acreage is 60,280 acres. There are no improved values at risk that are immediately threatened.
The South Lime Lake (#190) Fire is burning 14 miles northeast of Lime Village and is approximately 3,101 acres. Aerial observers yesterday noted that 30% of the fire perimeter was active with no values at risk that are immediately threatened.
If you would like more information or have an information about cabins, lodges or other improvements that you feel fire managers in this area should know about please email email@example.com.