Unmanned aerial system provides Dalton Highway Complex firefighters with images and infrared data

Firefighters on the Idaho Bar Fire (#555), east of Rampart, anticipate they will complete the time-consuming mop-up process Sunday. They did a thorough search for hotspots, starting along the fire’s perimeter and working into the burned area approximately 200 feet, and found only two. Crews are also coordinating the return of excess equipment and supplies from the fireline and the village of Rampart to the supply cache in Fairbanks.

Two male firefighters stand on a dirt road surrounded by flat, treeless tundra. Mountain peaks are far in the distance. Their unmanned aerial system (drone) is sitting on the road and the laptop, handheld radio and other equipment necessary for piloting the drone are sitting on a large storage box. The drone provides firefighters with images and infrared data on heat sources on fires too remote or unsafe to access on foot.
Unmanned aerial system (UAS) pilot trainees Tyler Hoest and Dan Paladino, under the guidance of UAS Manager Brian Okarski, prepare to launch their UAS over a Dalton Highway Complex fire. They are members of the Columbine Wildland Fire Module from the San Juan National Forest in Colorado. The UAS provides firefighters with images and data on heat sources that are either not producing visible smoke or too difficult or unsafe to access on foot.
Photo Credit: UAS Manager Brian Okarski, Columbine Wildland Fire Module, San Juan National Forest

On the northern part of the complex, the Columbine Wildland Fire Module flew an unmanned aerial system (UAS, aka drone) over the Prospect Fire (#494), where they didn’t detect any hotspots, and the MM 125 Fire (#441), where they detected two. The crew will conduct a UAS mission over the Douglas Fire (#336) on Sunday. The UAS collects images and infrared data that help firefighters determine how much surface heat remains in the burned area.

Six firefighters rappelled into the Gold Pan Fire (#565) to further assess hotspots detected during Friday’s aerial reconnaissance. They will also establish a helispot and verify the fire perimeter. Air resources continue to benefit from weather conducive for flying and are conducting reconnaissance missions and assisting with removal of tools, supplies, and communications equipment no longer needed for the suppression effort.

The Fish Fire (##319), Little Salt Fire (#521), Milepost Fire (#317), Montana Gulch Fire (#556), Prospect Fire (#494), and Tozitna Fire (#543) have all been fully contained.

Two male firefighters in an open field surrounded by mature trees operate hand-held controls to pilot an unmanned aerial system (drone) that has lifted off the ground. The cloudless, blue sky is the backdrop for the small drone that is flying away to survey a fire that firefighters can't access on foot.
Members of the Columbine Wildland Fire Module from the San Juan National Forest pilot their unmanned aerial system (UAS) over Dalton Highway Complex fires.
Photo Credit: UAS Manager Brian Okarski, Columbine Wildland Fire Module, San Juan National Forest

Dalton Highway Complex (89,100 acres): The acreage total includes all fires in the Dalton Highway Complex. The largest or most active fires in the complex are:

  • Douglas Fire (#336): 23,124 acres, located on both sides of the Dalton Highway between MP 141 and MP 149
  • Fort Hamlin Hills Fire (#562): 615 acres, located on the Dalton Highway between MP 70 and MP 73
  • Gold Pan Fire (#565): 38 acres, located south of Rampart
  • Huron Fire (#372): 18,822 acres, located between Rampart and the Dalton Highway
  • Idaho Bar Fire (#555): 112 acres, located 4.5 miles southeast of Rampart
  • MM 125 Fire (#441): 2,986 acres, located between MP 121 and MP 125 on the Dalton Highway
  • Troublesome Fire (#359): 13,282 acres, located 11.5 miles east of Rampart
map showing the location and fire perimeters of the 17 fires in the complex over a topography background layer
Dalton Highway Complex Public Information Map (07-24-2022) (click on image to view PDF)

Fire Weather: A brief warming trend continues through Monday as ridging remains over the Yukon Territory and along the Alaskan Canadian border. Relative humidity will decrease to the upper 30s, and temperatures will hold steady in the 70s. The chance of rain increases Monday night and Tuesday as the front shifts east, and much cooler temperatures are predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday as moist air from the west coast low shifts inland.

Closures: Arctic Circle Campground is closed due to firefighting activity. Arctic Circle Wayside (sign location) is open.

Public Safety: When driving on the Dalton Highway, use caution, have patience with the firefighting effort, and always drive with headlights on. The road is narrow; pulling over to stop on the shoulder is discouraged.

Contact Information: 2022.daltonhighwaycomplex@firenet.gov, 907-921-2547 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily)

For a complete list of the fires in the Dalton Highway Complex, visit inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/8240.  For information on all the fires in Alaska, visit akfireinfo.com.

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Categories: AK Fire Info

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