Wildfires Spread Through Alaska, One Within Miles of Anvik

A wildfire in rural Alaska

As of this morning, Alaska has over 25 active wildfires burning throughout the State. Two of those fires are located in Western Alaska, one near the community of Anvik.

According to the spokesperson for the Bureau of Land Management’s Alaska Fire Service, Beth Ipsen, ten of their personnel have been working to control the Deadman’s Slough fire.

“Last night, we had eight smoke jumpers parachute into the area, and they have been working on the fire. We also had two fire bosses. These are the smaller, water scooping planes; they look kind of like crop dusters with floats, and they can dump about 800 gallons of water at a time,” Ipsen explained. “And they’re pretty quick, so they just need a nearby source of water and they can do a turn around and dump water on the fire.”

Deadman’s Slough is about three miles south of Anvik, where a fire has burnt through an estimated area of ninety acres since 7:30pm Sunday night.

Ipsen says this blaze is classified as a “full” fire, which means it is close to a community and is a higher priority for the Fire Service.

“That area has a mixture of black spruce and hardwoods. So, when it hits that strand of spruce, it kind of flares up and torches, then it subsides when it hits the hardwood. There’s a strand of hardwood in-between this fire and the village, so if it does hit that strand of hardwood, it would slow down,” said Ipsen, “But yesterday, the wind was blowing the fire away from the village, farther south, and winds are expected to do the same today.”

The Alaska Fire Service suspects that the cause of the Deadman’s Slough fire was lightning.

According to Ipsen, the conditions that allowed for numerous fires to pop up state-wide were weather related.

“We’ve had days of drying and dry, warm temperatures. We have red flag warnings throughout a good portion of Western Alaska, from the Kobuk Valley south to the Kuskokwim Valley. So, we have conditions that are windy. It’s going to be higher temperatures, at least 75° or above and relatively low humidity, so if there is an ignition, if there is a spark, the chances of it spreading rapidly in those areas is high,” stated Ipsen.

Also burning near the Yukon River is a limited fire at Wolf Creek. According to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, the Wolf Creek fire’s range is about 10 acres. Ipsen says this fire is expected to burn just in that area. It is unclear how long both the Deadman’s Slough and Wolf Creek fires will burn, but the Alaska Fire Service will continue to monitor them.

Ipsen cautions people to be careful during their outdoor activities so as not to cause more fires.

Image above: file photo: a wildfire on the outskirts of Nome. Photo: Tyler Stup, KNOM.