780 AM | 96.1 FM 

“YOURS FOR WESTERN ALASKA”

(907) 443-5221

North River Wildfire Smoke Spreads Across Norton Sound

North River Fire Outside Koyuk
Photo credit: BLM's Alaska Fire Service, June 16th (2019)

Smoke from a sizable wildfire outside of Koyuk has been visible for almost a hundred miles in the surrounding Norton Sound area as the wind shifts.

Beth Ipsen, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Land Management’s Alaska Fire Service, says the North River blaze has grown roughly 20,000 acres in two days.

“It was very active yesterday; about 75% of the perimeter was active. It was backing, it was torching, it was spotting, large flame lengths that were seen. And it’s burning in black spruce; that’s why it’s putting up a lot of smoke, and that’s why it is pretty visible. Smoke can actually travel quite a distance.”

Over the weekend, the North River fire produced smoke that was visible in Kaltag, about 70 miles southeast of the fire, and was also seen 100 miles westward: outside of Nome, off the Kougarok Road. According to a smoke model from the University of Alaska–Fairbanks, the wind will start blowing smoke from the blaze to Elim and further west towards Nome tomorrow (Tuesday).

Ipsen says Norton Sound residents should expect to see more smoke from that fire for the foreseeable future, as the AFS will let it burn until it has run its natural course.

“Well, as long as it is not threatening (anything) valuable, like structures, native allotments, (or) archaeological sites, it will be in that monitor status.”

According to Ipsen, the fire covers more than 32,000 acres as it continues to burn through tundra patches with black spruce trees northeast of Koyuk. The AFS designated this significant wildfire as burning in a limited management option area; therefore, it will continue to be monitored as it burns naturally.

The North River fire was first reported on June 10, burning at 400 acres. Ipsen says it was started by lightning.

A map updated by the Alaska Fire Service shows the North River Fire and a few other active blazes around the Norton Sound area (as of 10am on June 17, 2019).

Another active wildfire near Koyuk is almost completely contained and has burned through 80 acres. According to Ipsen, 21 firefighters currently working on the Inglutalik River blaze plan to be done and demobilize tomorrow. 

At this time, neither blaze has threatened human life or property.

Image at top: the North River fire outside Koyuk, Alaska. Photo: BLM’s Alaska Fire Service, June 16, 2019.

Share this story

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email

Recent Posts

MS Westerdam Passengers Recall Icy Approach to Nome

Holland America’s MS Westerdam has arrived in Nome. The cruise ship that holds over 1,900 passengers is anchored just off the coast of Nome, too big to dock in the port. Small tenders that hold about 80 passengers each are ferrying visitors to and from the shore throughout the day.

Read More »

First-Ever KNOM Radio Music Fest Draws a Crowd, Drives Donations

Selma Casagranda serenaded audience members with a few of her original songs. Casagranda is from Seward and one of four finalists from KNOM’s 2023 American Idol search. Audience members joined the King Island dance group for an invitational dance. One of KNOM’s 2023 American Idol search finalists, Martin Paul of

Read More »

June 20: Rick Thoman’s Climate Highlight for Western Alaska

The following is a transcript from Rick Thoman’s weekly “Climate Highlight for Western Alaska” provided to KNOM Radio. Thoman is a Climate Specialist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The largest wildfire on the Seward Peninsula since 2019, the Goldbug Fire,

Read More »

Westerdam: First Visitors Expected Around 8 a.m.

Holland America’s MS Westerdam cruise ship will anchor just outside of the Nome Harbor the morning of June 21, bringing with it a wave of tourists to Nome.  According to City of Nome Harbormaster Lucas Stotts, the ship’s passengers will first arrive by tender around 7:45 a.m. The last tender

Read More »

More

Newsletter:

Work for Us:

Jobs

Contact

Nome:

(907) 443-5221 

Anchorage:

(907) 868-1200 

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that KNOM Radio Mission is located on the customary lands of Indigenous peoples. 

Based in the Bering Strait region, KNOM broadcasts throughout the homelands of the Iñupiaq, Siberian Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Yup’ik peoples.