Fires in Alaska

Fires in Alaska
12 July 2004


NEWS RELEASE

Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, Fort Wainwright, Alaska

11 July, 18:00 hrs

  • Total Acres Burned This Year: 2,383,036

  • Total Fires Statewide: 387

  • Fires Currently Active: 71

The United States Coast Guard, at the request of Governor Frank Murkowski, flew the Mariner Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in support of aerial reconnaissance of wildfires burning in the interior of Alaska in the very early hours of 10 July.

The UAV flew at altitudes of more than 30,000 feet. It was able to use a high resolution infrared camera to spot new fires and confirm the position of existing fires. Visual data from the Mariner’s onboard camera was transmitted to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center and the Governor’s Office.

Boundary Fire

Fire behavior was moderate yesterday due to moisture received overnight. Warmer and drier conditions could increase fire behavior.

The fire in Sorrels Creek is backing toward the Little Chena River, which is oriented toward a subdivision located in heavy black spruce. Work on a dozer line from the end of Fairbanks Creek Road toward Sorrel Creek is progressing. Firefighters are preparing for a potential burnout on the southwest flank, and they continue to build fireline on the southern portion of the fire.

The Steese Highway is open, but trails and campgrounds in the fire area will remain closed while firefighting efforts are onging.

A public meeting will be held at the Fox General Store this afternoon (11 July) at 3:00 pm. Fairbanks North Star Borough staff and members of the Boundary Fire Incident Management Team will provide information and answer questions about firefighting efforts.

Wolf Creek Fire

Yesterday, there was little active burning around Chena Hot Springs Resort and the West and North Forks of the Chena River. Structure protection continues to be successful.

Today a smaller organization will take over management of the fire. There is no immediate threat to structures, but firefighters will continue to patrol.

Taylor Complex

The Chicken Fire is slowly backing down Taylor Mountain toward the Mosquito Fork of the Fortymile River. The burnout planned for an area along the Mosquito Fork was suspended yesterday because conditions were unfavorable; it will be considered today if weather permits.

The perimeter of the Wall Street Fire is secure; the fire is not a threat to the community of Chicken. Firefighters continue to monitor fire behavior around Chicken and isolated structures. The Taylor Highway is open.

Evansville Fire

Burnout operations were begun yesterday to protect a native allotment and the community of Bettles.

Today, firefighters will work on securing fireline on the north flank of the fire to protect Bettles. They’ll also work on securing the fire edge near the allotment (northeast ofBettles).

Waldron Creek Fire

The cause of this fire, which started on Friday, 9 July, is under investigation. The fire threatens allotments and timber on Native American land. Smokejumpers made good progress on hose lays yesterday.

Restrictions: Fireworks are banned statewide. Open burning (including cooking, warming, and signaling fires, and fires under burn permits) is prohibited in Game Management Units 11, 12, 13, 20, 21, 24, and 25 (central and eastern Interior Alaska and the upper Copper River Valley). This applies to federal, state, private and municipal lands.

The Chugach National Forest has prohibited fires, campfires and charcoal fires except in designated sites with a containment device (such as developed campgrounds). Also prohibited are smoking (except within an enclosed vehicle or building, developed campground or other recreation site, or cleared area) and operating a combustion engine (such as a chainsaw) without a spark arrester.

Trail Closures: In the Chena River Recreational Area, the Upper Chena Dome, Lower Chena Dome, and Angel Rocks Trails are closed. (The Granite Tors Trail is open.) Trails and campgrounds within the Boundary Fire area will remain closed while firefighting efforts are ongoing.

Alaska Weather Summary: Today will be partly cloudy, with smoke. Temperatures will range from 74 to 82 degrees, with humidities between 30 and 40 percent. Winds will be from the southwest, 10 to 15 mph, with gusts up to 20 mph. Expect smoke this evening. Tonight will be partly cloudy, then becoming mostly clear. Humidities will range from 70 to 80 percent, and winds will be from the southwest, 5 to 15 mph. Tomorrow’s weather will be partly cloudy. Temperatures will range from 75 to 80 degrees, with humidities from 26 to 34 percent. Winds will be from the southwest, 5 to 15 mph.

Source: Alaska Fire Service

Fire Weather & Fire Danger Information
The Wildland Fire Assessment System (WFAS) is a contribution of “The Fire Behavior Research Work Unit”, Missoula (Montana USA). The broad area component of the Wildland Fire Assessment System (WFAS) generates maps of selected fire weather and fire danger components.


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