Aug. 30 - 4:38 p.m.

Rain moderates fire activity

According to a new update from Public Information Officer Sam Harrel on AK Fire Info, recent rain in the Bristol Bay region has moderated fire activity.

Here are the latest updates for the Southwest fires:

Pauls Creek Fire (#777)

No smokes were found on the Pauls Creek Fire (#777) on Thursday as firefighters completed their final grid of the 25-acre fire. Personnel from the fire northwest of King Salmon may be reassigned to other fires in the area.

Koklong Creek Fire (#776)

Firefighters were able to mop up a 15-foot wide perimeter around the Koklong Creek Fire (#776) southwest of Ekwok while waiting for gas-powered water pumps to be delivered on Thursday. With the arrival of replacement pumps, crews plan today to gain another 50 feet in width around the 30-acre fire. No growth has been reported on this fire for several days.

Levelock Fire (#752)

Native allotments south of the Levelock Fire (#752) are being assessed for point protection measures as the fire spreads in their direction. A water-dropping helicopter slowed the fire’s advance Thursday allowing smokejumpers to determine what supplies will be needed to start point protection. Crews remain in Levelock to be available for allotment protection and will continue rehabilitating dozer lines around the village and back hauling excessive equipment. The fire has grown to an estimated 7,913 acres.

Ethel Creek Fire (#516)

A change in the wind direction ahead of the approaching weather front helped firefighters Thursday on the Ethel Creek Fire (#516) burning 53 miles northwest of Nondalton. The fire is no longer being pushed toward personnel as they construct firelines around Native allotments. The fire remains at an estimated 31,000 acres.

Pete Andrews Creek Fire (#457)

Smokejumpers, assisted by six water-scooping aircraft Thursday, completed their control line by going direct along the western edge of the Pete Andrews Creek Fire (#457) burning north of Lake Iliamna. Firefighters today will continue with allotment protection measures. The fire is estimated to be 5,641 acres.

Lower Klutuk Fire (#770)

Satellite-based detection equipment shows a decrease in fire activity on the Lower Klutuk Fire (#770) today as rain moves over the area. The estimated 106-acre fire remains in monitor status. The lightning-caused fire was reported Friday, Aug. 23, and is about 10 miles southeast of New Stuyahok and over 15 miles northwest of Levelock. The Alaska Division of Forestry will continue aerial surveillance of the fire.

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Aug. 30 - 3:57 p.m.

Much needed rain moves across Southwest Alaska

The KTVA Weather Team says much needed rain moved across Southwest Alaska and the Alaska Peninsula early Friday as the first of two storm systems moved through.

Much of the region saw between a tenth and a third of an inch of rain and while it's not the heavy consistent rain that is needed to help suppress the fires, another round will move in Sunday.

Scattered showers are likely across the area Sunday through Tuesday with the heaviest rain falling on Monday.

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Aug. 29 - 1:51 p.m.

Fires remain active, thousands of acres burned

Fire officials say prolonged dry periods are making wildfires in the Bristol Bay region remain active. Here are the latest updates for each fire, according to Public Information Officer Sam Harrel:

Alaska Wildland Fire Information map as of Aug. 29, 2019 (Photo: AK Fire Info)

 

Pete Andrews Creek Fire (#457)

On Wednesday, six BLM Alaska Smokejumpers were deployed to protect a Native allotment in the area of the Pete Andrews Creek Fire (#457) burning about 5 miles north of Lake Iliamna. The fire, started July 8, has grown to an estimated 5,641 acres and is spreading south. Fire Boss water-scooping aircraft were dispatched to assist the jumpers. Today, firefighters will continue constructing saw line around the allotment and improving it with pumps and hose lays.

Pauls Creek Fire (#777)

Smokejumpers on the Pauls Creek Fire (#777) are making their final checks for hot spots today after completing control lines around the fire. The 25-acre fire, about 6 miles northwest of King Salmon, has been called contained. People may continue to see smoke from interior portions of the fire as the very dry peat moss continues to burn.

Koklong Creek Fire (#776)

Firefighters on the Koklong Creek Fire (#776), about 15 miles southwest of Ekwok, are making good progress building fireline around the 52-acre fire despite a broken water pump. Smokejumpers used portable water backpacks with hand sprayers to continue their mop up efforts.

Levelock Fire (#752)

Fire crews continue to mop up 300 feet in along the 6,863-acre Levelock Fire’s (#752) edge around the village and airstrip. A reconnaissance flight with an infrared detection camera has been requested to check for areas of heat that may threaten the community. Other portions of the fire will be left to progress naturally.

Ethel Creek Fire (#516)

Smokejumpers on the 31,000-acre Ethel Creek Fire (#516) continue to construct saw line around Native allotment boundaries. Aerial reconnaissance of the fire burning 53 miles northwest of Nondalton reports active burning in tundra with areas of torching in heavy fuels. Point protection measures will continue for additional allotments.

Lower Klutuk Fire (#770)

The Lower Klutuk Fire (#770) has grown to more than 100 acres and remains in monitor status. The lightning-caused fire was reported Friday, Aug. 23, and is about 10 miles southeast of New Stuyahok and over 15 miles northwest of Levelock. The Alaska Division of Forestry will continue aerial surveillance of the fire’s spread.

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Aug. 28 - 3:09 p.m.

Southwest fires resistant to control, officials say

Severe drought conditions in the Bristol Bay area are making the Southwest fires resistant to control, according to Public Information Officer Sam Harrel in an update posted to AK Fire Info.

"Firefighters working on fires in the area are reporting the dry conditions are making fires extremely resistant to control," the post says. "Water scooping Fire Boss aircraft have spent the past two days making water drops to support firefighting efforts on the Pauls Creek Fire (#777) outside of King Salmon and Koklong Creek Fire (#776) near Ekwok."

Here are the latest updates on the fires:

Pauls Creek Fire (#777)

Smokejumpers on the Pauls Creek Fire have completed a fireline with pumps and hose lay around the 25-acre fire. Their mop-up efforts have secured a 100-foot wide perimeter in most areas. They will continue today increasing width, while improving and securing other firelines. Personnel report the fire is burning deep in the dry peat moss and it is holding considerable heat on the northeast and northwest edges of the fire.

Koklong Creek Fire (#776)

Jumpers were able to get around the 30-acre Koklong Creek Fire on Monday with the help of the Fire Bosses. Mop up will continue as they work to increase the width of their perimeter.

Levelock Fire (#752)

Fire personnel on the 6,863 acre Levelock Fire (#752) continue to mop up 100 feet in along the airport road and have been able to reach 300 feet in some areas. Today, crews will continue to improve firelines and use dozers to break down berms created during suppression efforts.

Ethel Creek Fire (#516)

Smokejumpers spent Tuesday identifying Native allotments threatened by the Ethel Creek Fire (#516) burning 53 miles northwest of Nondalton. Point protection measures will be used to protect allotments affected by the 18,126-acre fire.

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Aug. 27 - 2:05 p.m.

Persistent drought conditions keep Southwest fires active

A post from Public Information Officer Sam Harrel on AK Fire Info says persistent drought conditions are keeping wildfires active in Southwest Alaska.

Alaska Wildland Fire Information Southwest fires map as of Aug. 27, 2019 (Photo: AK Fire Info)

 

Here are the latest updates on the fires:

Ethel Creek Fire (#516)

Eight smokejumpers were deployed Monday evening to the Ethel Creek Fire (#516) located 53 miles northwest of Nondalton. The lightning-caused fire started July 11 in a Limited suppression area. The fire has grown to an estimated 18,126 acres and is spreading toward Native allotments along the Mulchatna River and Old Man Creek. The smokejumpers will begin point protection measures for the allotments closest to the fire.

Koklong Creek Fire (#776)

Smokejumpers are enroute to a lightning-started fire that was reported Sunday about 9 miles southwest of Ekwok that is starting to burn actively. Smokejumpers ordered to the Koklong Creek Fire (#776) on Sunday were unable to locate the fire. Rain showers in the area at the time prevented smoke from being visible making it difficult to find.

Pauls Creek Fire (#777)

That plane load of smokejumpers were redirected to the Pauls Creek Fire (#777) reported at the same time northwest of King Salmon. Water-scooping Fire Boss aircraft worked yesterday supporting firefighters as they constructed firelines around that 25-acre fire. The Fire Bosses and a helicopter will work again today to help with suppression efforts.

Levelock Fire (#752)

Firefighters on the Levelock Fire (#752) continue improving their containment lines protecting the village and airstrip. Their control lines along the creek to the north of the airstrip are complete. They will continue working on the rest of their firelines today, increasing width to 300 feet. The fire was active on the southern perimeter but it is not posing a threat to any assets. The acreage is estimated to be 6,863.

Tunravik Creek 2 Fire (#764)

The half-acre Tunravik Creek 2 Fire (#764) reported Thursday in New Stuyahok is controlled and being monitored.

Lower Klutuk Fire (#770)

The Lower Klutuk Fire (#770) reported Friday is estimated to be 106 acres and is not posing any threats. It is also being monitored.

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Aug. 26 - 1:36 p.m.

Extreme conditions: Alaska wildfire season extended

Alaska's wildfire season has been extended because of extreme conditions causing high fire danger throughout the state. It's the first time the season has been extended since 2006.

Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige made the announcement Monday. The season, which normally begins April 1 and ends on Aug. 31, is now in effect until Sept. 30.

READ MORE: Extreme conditions: Alaska wildfire season extended 

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Aug. 26 

Two new fires started by lightning in Bristol Bay, work continues in Levelock

According to a post published on AK Fire Info, smokejumpers are responding to the Koklong Creek Fire reported Sunday evening outside of Ekwok, about seven miles northwest of King Salmon. Firefighters are also responding to a fire southwest of the village.

The update reads:

Rain showers and thunderstorms with light and variable winds were reported in the area as personnel on aircraft looked for the [Koklong] Creek Fire (#776) reported 2-3 miles southwest of Ekwok. The flight was then redirected to the Pauls Creek Fire (#777) where eight smokejumpers were deployed. The fire was very active and smokejumpers worked into the early morning.

 

Firefighters are continuing containment lines in Levelock to protect the village and the airstrip.

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Aug. 24 - 12:41 p.m.

Village and airstrip are secure

Fire officials say lightning started another wildfire in the Bristol Bay region Friday night.

According to Alaska's wildfire information site, the Lower Klutuk Fire is about 10 miles southeast of New Stuyahok and 15 miles northwest of Levelock, which has just been secured from the 5,500-acre Levelock Fire burning nearby. 

Teams in the air report the Lower Klutuk Fire is burning about 8 acres in black spruce and tundra. 

No structures or valuable assets are in danger, so crews will keep monitoring the blaze.

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Aug. 24 - 12:19 p.m.

Village and airstrip are secure

Smokejumpers and crews from Hooper Bay and Chevak have secured the town of Levelock and its airstrip from the flames of the Levelock Fire.

An update from Alaska's wildfire information website states that residents who responded to help defend the town have returned to their homes. 

The priority will be protecting the town and airstrip, while other parts of the fire will be left to progress naturally.

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Aug. 23 - 5:18 p.m.

Firefighters protecting village of Levelock

Firefighters are still working to protect Levelock, an online update posted by Public Information Officer Sam Harrel says.

Dry conditions are keeping the fire active, while firefighters continue mopping up and improving firelines that were put in to protect the village and airstrip.

Harrel says smokejumpers and firefighters from Hooper Bay and Chevak are conducting "tactical firing operations: north and south of town as well as along the airstrip.

BLM Alaska Wildland Fires Web Map, Levelock Fire (Photo: AK Fire Info)

"By burning off from their control lines, firefighters are removing the fuel between the village and the main fire," the update says. "The control line is a combination of hand and dozer line, as well as natural features such as sloughs and lakes."

The fire is estimated to be 5,500 acres. Harrel says the suppression plane for fire calls for point protection of the community and airstrip. Other portions of the fire will be left to progress naturally.

"Should additional valuable assets be threatened, point protection measures will be enacted," the update says.

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Aug. 22 - 1:41 p.m.

Firefighters focusing on point protection

Emergency firefighting crews from Hooper Bay and Chevak helped BLM Alaska smokejumpers and Levelock residents complete hose lays across most of their control lines except for the extreme north and south ends of the fire, a new update from Public Information Officer Sam Harrel said Thursday.

 

Levelock Fire information (Photo: AK Fire Info)

"Dozers are being used to break up and spread out berms that are holding heat to then be mopped up by crews," the update reads. "Due to recent rains, the marine layer, and cloud cover, firing operations have not been successful."

Harrel says firefighters are focusing on securing and improving existing control lines and point protection for the village, airstrip and Native allotments.

The fire is still estimated to be around 5,000 acres and is only 5% contained.

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Aug. 21 - 1:41 p.m.

More firefighters heading to Levelock

Emergency firefighting crews from Hooper Bay and Chevak are scheduled to get to Levelock on Wednesday night to assist the smokejumpers and residents who are containing the fire.

According to Alaska's wildfire information site, smokejumpers have set up pumps and hoses around the community to keep the flames from moving in. 

"Smokejumpers are also planning smaller burnouts to clean up some pockets of unburned vegetation to create a protective buffer from the fire," the site reads.

Hot and dry conditions have made the Levelock Fire difficult to control, so residents have been building firelines by digging up burnable vegetation and exposing the soil underneath in an effort to stop the fire's spread.

Officials estimate the blaze has burned about 5,000 acres.

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Aug. 20 - 7:52 p.m.

Commercial fishing boats help with wildfire evacuation

Commercial fisherman were there to help on Sunday when a wildfire flared up in the Bristol Bay area of Levelock.

"There's one commercial fishing boat called the Anna Rose; had about 30 people on board, mostly children and a few elders," said Levelock Village President Alexander "Skipper" Tallekpalek.

Tallekpalek said other fisherman stepped in too, with some staying out in the water at least overnight to ride out the flames. He says the fire jumped a bulldozer line and got about 30 to 60 yards from the dump and a couple homes.

According to Alaska's wildland fire information website, eight Alaska smokejumpers, helped by heavy equipment, were able to secure two sections of the Levelock fire before flames reached any homes or structures. Tallekpalek says along with firefighting efforts recent rain has helped the situation.

"It did help out tremendously. It really stopped the fire from fronting and then dancing as the dry climate would allow it," he said.

The latest update on the website said the landscape of the area is somewhat helpful in battling the wildfire.

"Unlike thick tundra mat sitting atop permafrost that is typical in Alaska, the tundra mat surrounding Levelock is significantly thinner and sits atop a sand-based soil. This is helpful for building firelines by digging down to the mineral soil to remove any burnable material to prevent the spread of the fire," the update read.

Tallekpalek says about 50 people were in the village at the time and some are now returning home. More crews are expected to arrive to knock out hotspots. Tallekpalek says the cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

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Aug. 20 - 6 p.m.

The latest on the Levelock Fire

 

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Aug. 20 - 11:40 a.m.

Levelock Fire as many as 5,000 acres

A post on AK Fire Info says the Levelock Fire has burned as many as 5,000 acres. Fire managers say there were no structures lost in the village and smokejumpers are getting help from villagers to secure sections of the fire.

AK Fire Info says the area has been experiencing hot and dry conditions. The village had winds 15-20 mph on Monday that pushed the fire northwest of the village.

"The fire received light precipitation with more predicted, aiding firefighters and villagers with keeping the fire at bay," AK Fire info said.

More firefighters are expected to arrive in the village this week.

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Aug. 19 - 7 p.m.

Levelock fire (Photo: Neesha Rivas)

Alaska smokejumpers are working to contain a wildfire burning west of the Bristol Bay area village of Levelock.

As of 7 p.m. Monday, the fire was estimated to be 250–300 acres. A release at that time from the Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service states smokejumpers have been able to keep the fire at bay, but it's threatening a fire line built to the southwest side of the village.

Alaska Fire Service says people reported the fire burning north of the village not long after after midnight Monday. However, resources were spread thin because of other wildfires in the state and it was too dark to fly, so smokejumpers were unable to respond until the morning.

"Village residents and two bulldozer mobilized to the Levelock Fire (#752) shortly after it was discovered in an effort to keep it from threatening the village," an online update reads. "Other residents – mostly elders and young children – decided to leave the Levelock (sic) due to the smoky conditions creating respiratory issues."

Smokejumpers started suppressing the fire around 1:30 p.m. 

Alaska Fire Service says it was reported to be burning in a combination of tundra with pockets of spruce.

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