Fires in Alaska

Fires in Alaska
14 July 2004

Large wildfires continue to burn in Alaska and the Yukon.
(NOAA-15 <> RGB=ch. 3, 2, 1 <> 07/12/2004 02:30 UTC) Source: OSEI

Lightning Triggers Fires Across Alaska
As of July 12, 2004, the Alaska Fire Service reported that nearly 2.5 million acres across the state had been affected by fires. This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite on July 12 shows dozens of active fires across the eastern part of the state. Areas where MODIS detected fires are outlined in red. The thick smoke and clouds can make it difficult to identify landmarks. At the bottom right of the scene are the Wrangell Mountains. Arcing across the bottom left quadrant of the scene are the Alaska Range Mountains


Residents of Eagle were advised this morning that an Immediate Emergency State exists in Eagle due to wildfire. Additional information is provided on the following page.

This fire season is the fourth largest since Alaska started keeping wildfire records in 1950. The largest fire season was in 1957, when 5,049,661 acres burned.

Yesterday afternoon another red flag warning was issued for the middle Tanana Valley. A red flag warning means that weather conditions are occurring or will occur that could lead to the development of large and dangerous fires. Warmer, drier weather and gusty winds continue to increase fire activity in the afternoons on many of the fires burning in Interior Alaska. This weather pattern is likely to persist for the next few days.

No major losses were reported from yesterday’s fire activity.

With increased fire activity there’s more smoke in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Air quality was rated as moderate yesterday afternoon. People with heart or respiratory conditions, children and the elderly are advised to avoid prolonged exertion outdoors.

Boundary Fire

Warmer, drier conditions yesterday contributed to increased fire activity. Smoke plumes were spotted on the northern flank moving further into the White Mountains Recreational Area. Interior islands of unburned fuel are burning out. Firefighters are reinforcing control lines along the Fairbanks Creek Road and the Kokomo Creek area. Burnout operations were conducted yesterday in these areas to reduce fuel loads.

The Steese Highway remains open. All backcountry trails and four-wheeler trails are closed. The Nome Creek Valley, Ophir Creek, and Mount Prindle Campgrounds in the White Mountain Recreation Area are closed.

Wolf Creek Fire

Single-engine air tankers dropped retardant on the fire north of Monument Creek (east of Chena Hot Springs Resort) and near Frozenfoot Creek (north of the West Fork of the Chena River).

Taylor Complex

Fire activity caused long delays on the Taylor Highway from milepost 0. Crews protected structures adjacent to the community of Chicken after spots (small fires ahead of the main fire) occurred across the Mosquito Fork of the Fortymile River northwest of Chicken.

Today engines will monitor fire along the Taylor Highway from milepost 49 to 84. Motorists should expect delays. Firefighters plan to burn out a slope across the Mosquito Fork adjacent to Chicken.

Eagle Complex

This morning residents of Eagle were advised that an Immediate Emergency Situation exists in Eagle due to wildfire conditions: the Deer Creek Fire moved east two miles along Excelsior Creek yesterday evening. Residents will be required to evacuate within two hours of receiving notice.

People who wish to leave Eagle now have been encouraged to do so. Delays are possible on the Taylor Highway due to fire activity (in particular, between Chicken and Tok). Some delays may be as long as eight hours.

The airport at Eagle will serve as safety zone. A Red Cross facility has been established at Tok.

Evansville Fire

Extreme fire behavior was experienced yesterday. The fire spotted across the Koyukuk River near the mouth of Pope Creek and into the Gates of the Arctic National Park. These spots are within the area of large burn that occurred in 1997; they don’t pose and imminent threat. Crews continue to secure the northwest flank of the fire.

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.

In the White Mountain Recreation Area, Nome Creek Valley, Ophir, and Prindle Mountain Campgrounds are closed.

Trails and campgrounds within the Boundary Fire area will remain closed while firefighting efforts are ongoing.

Alaska Weather Summary: Today’s weather will be partly cloudy, with smoke. Isolated thunderstorms are possible north of Fairbanks this morning. Temperatures 82 to 88 degrees; humidities from 20 and 30 percent; wind from the southwest at 5 to 15 mph, with up-drainage 20 mph gusts this afternoon. Tonight will be partly cloudy, with smoke. Temperatures 54 to 61 mph; humidities from 65 to 75 percent; wind from the southwest to 10 mph, with up-drainage gusts to 20 mph. Tomorrow will be partly cloudy, with smoke. Isolated thunderstorms are possible in the afternoon. Temperatures 80 to 86 degrees; humidities 28 to 38 percent; wind southwest 5 to 15 mph, with up-drainage gusts to 20 percent.

Fires burning in Interior Alaska are still uncontrolled and present many hazards to public safety. Limit driving in fire areas to necessary travel only. Drive slowly and keep your headlights on. Watch for displaced wildlife, debris on the road, and firefighters conducting burnout operations and falling trees along the roadside. Don’t stop to take pictures or watch the fire.

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.

For more  information on the Fire Situation in USA see:

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