Following Helicopter Accident, Work Continues to Contain Clear Fire

Size: 9,552 acres

Containment: 7%

Start Date: June 21, 2022

Fuels: A mix of tundra, brush, hardwood and black spruce

Location: 8.5 miles west of Anderson, Alaska 

Personnel: 207

Cause: Natural, Lightning 

From Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Fire Protection: “It is with sad and heavy hearts that we share the news a pilot supporting the Clear Fire outside Anderson, AK, died in a helicopter crash. The pilot and sole occupant was Douglas Ritchie, 56, of Wasilla, AK. Wildland firefighters and aviators are a close community and are in support of the family, friends, and co-workers during this tragic time.”  

“The crash occurred Sunday evening, June 26, 2022, while landing at the Anderson Airport’s helipad near milepost 280 of the Parks Highway. The Division of Forestry & Fire Protection (DOF) had contracted the 1960 Bell 204B ‘Huey’ helicopter operated by Northern Pioneer Helicopters. The division is assisting the Alaska State Troopers and National Transportation Safety Board who are conducting an investigation. For additional information contact Sam Harrel at (907) 356-5512.” 
After receiving news of the accident, crews on the Clear Fire incident stood down for the rest of the evening. Incident Commander Alan Lawson said, “We’re heartbroken by the loss of one of our wildland brothers, and send our sincerest condolences to his family and friends.”  

Fire Situation: Earlier on Sunday, crews made progress as smoke in the area blocked some of the sun’s heat, moderating fire behavior. The fire’s reported acreage increased from an estimated 5,500 to 9,552 due largely to receipt of more accurate data.  

Today, boats are shuttling personnel and equipment to the fire’s north side along the Teklanika River where they are connecting containment lines and preparing structures in the event fire activity increases in that area. Other crews are working to reinforce fire breaks north of the Kobe Ag, Anderson (not city) and Quota subdivisions. Between the fire’s eastern edge and the City of Anderson, firefighters are improving existing fire breaks as a precaution. Additional resources are arriving, and fire managers expect to continue gaining ground on the incident as long as weather conditions remain stable. However, most fuels in the area are extremely dry, leading to a situation that is dynamic and challenging. 

Evacuation Information: Evacuation notices remain in effect. Contact the Denali Borough at (907) 683-1330, see the borough’s Facebook page or visit Shelters are in place at the Tri-Valley School in Healy, approximately 40 miles south of the City of Anderson, and the Nenana School, 25 miles north of the City of Anderson.  

Fire Information:Clear Fire Information Line, (907) 290-2921; Alaska Fire Information, (907) 356-5511;, and on the Alaska Division of Forestry and BLM Alaska Fire Service Facebook pages.  

Categories: AK Fire Info


%d bloggers like this: