The Central Creek Airstrip Fire (#295) has grown to an estimated 1,000 acres overnight. The lightning caused fire is moving east through drainages across rolling tundra and black spruce stands. It is south of the confluence of Central Creek and Goodpaster River. Within two miles of the cabins and homes around the confluence. The Pogo Mine is 6.5 miles north of the fire. Delta Junction is 30 miles to the southwest.
The Russian River Module is mobilizing to join Hooper Bay Squad and Delta Area Forestry firefighters assess cabins and homes along the river and begin structure protection operations. Year-round residents and cabin owners in the area are assisting firefighters locate additional values at risk. Locals are also helping to brush around and prep structures. Forestry is working with Pogo Mine to prepare as the fire grows.
This fire is one of 11 new fires reported Friday. Scattered thunderstorms across the Interior and north to the Brooks Range are believed to be responsible for most of them. Thunderstorms will develop each afternoon and evening in the Interior for the next few days potentially sparking new fires. More fires from past storms are expected. It is not unusual for a lightning strike to holdover and smolder for days, or potentially weeks, before a warm day with a breeze brings it life. Reconnaissance flights are conducted daily across the state looking for new fires.
The duff layer, that layer of decomposing moss, lichen, and tree litter, often about a foot deep, that make up the floor of the boreal forests and tundra, is very dry. Light rain is not enough to penetrate the duff effectively enough to make less susceptible to burning. The graphic below shows the moisture content of the mid and upper layers of duff today at 2 p.m. Red is extremely drought stricken. It will take a considerable amount of rain or snow to extinguish the Central Creek Airstrip Fire.
This morning there were 102 active fires with 606 firefighters assigned to 16 of them. Firefighting resources are being carefully assigned as each new incident is assessed.