Freezing Rain, Snow Quells Dillingham-Area Blaze

Photo by Tom Dean

A mix of freezing rain and several inches of snow is rarely good news. But for residents in the Dillingham area who’ve watched a large tundra fire continue to burn since last Friday, last night’s wintry mix came not a moment too soon.

On Tuesday, it was estimated that the fire would burn itself out in an area contained by the Bering Sea coast and the Snake River. But through the afternoon and evening Wednesday, the response team could only sit and watch as strong, shifting winds forced a dramatic increase in the fire’s size and spread.  Then by 10pm last night, the winds eased up and snow and freezing rain began to fall.

Photo by Dave Bendinger, KDLG – Dillingham

“The ice and the snow will probably put out almost everything on the tundra that’s opened,” Tom Dean, the Division of Forestry’s Fire Management Officer who’s been coordinating the firefighting response, said. “I would say with the projected forecast, within the next two to three days, with more rain and ice predicted – and snow – it will probably finish off the fire.”

“I’m not calling the out, but I’m calling the fire contained and controlled as of today,”

The fire, started by a remote control plane crash last Friday, has now burned an estimated 8,000 acres in the open tundra to the southwest of Dillingham. Monitoring efforts will continue. But Today’s survey flight of the fire was grounded on account of icy weather.