Wildfire Grows Near Allakaket (UPDATED)
A wildfire burns near Allakaket, Alaska, on Wednesday. Photo by Rebecca Linus.
UPDATED at 9 a.m. Saturday:
Fire crews were making continued progress on the Allakaket wildfire, according to Saturday morning’s update from the Alaska Fire Service.
“Crews continued to secure the fire edge on all flanks. Smokejumpers and aerial resources made good progress suppressing the head of the fire,” the report states.
The fire’s size was listed at 2,600 acres.
“The plan for the next operational period is to continue securing the fire perimeter on all flanks of the fire,” the report reads.
FAIRBANKS—More than 200 firefighters continued to battle a 2,500-acre wildfire burning near the village of Allakaket on Friday.
The fire, which started Wednesday in the town dump and quickly spread to surrounding wildlands, was still moving northeast away from the Bush village of approximately 100 people on the south bank of the Koyukuk River, 190 miles northwest of Fairbanks.
At its closest point, the fire came within a half mile of homes at the village’s new town site, but east winds kept it from coming closer. Firefighters, with the help of water-scooping aircraft, were able to make “significant progress” on the north flank closest to the village on Thursday, according to an Alaska Fire Service report. The fire had grown by about 60 acres since Thursday. It was estimated at 2,558 acres.
“It’s grown a little bit, but it’s still moving away from the village at this point,” said fire information officer Mel Slater of the Alaska Fire Service.
There were 220 firefighters working the fire. Nine firefighting crews, including Hot Shots and smokejumpers, were being aided by five water-scooping planes and two retardant tankers. The fire service was looking at adding an additional four ground crews to the fire, Slater said.
Firefighters using chain saws were cutting fire breaks along the northern flank of the fire that is closest to the village, he said.
“We’re fighting the whole fire, but we’re concentrating our efforts on the north flank because that’s the edge that’s closer to the village,” Slater said.
Fire service officials met with village residents Thursday night to brief them on the fire, but there was no mention of any evacuation plan, he said. There was concern about a shift in the wind that would bring smoke into the village but that didn’t happen, Slater said.
The plan is for firefighters to continue suppression efforts on the north and south flanks of the fire with the help of water-dropping aircraft, Slater said.
Despite the hot, dry weather — temperatures were expected to be in the 80s again Friday —firefighters have been helped by favorable winds, he said.
Contact Fairbanks Daily News-Miner staff writer Tim Mowry at 907-459-7587.