Partial Evacuations Underway in Aniak and Chuathbaluk

[this story was updated at 4:43 p.m.]

The latest figures show 21 new fires were logged in Alaska yesterday. That brings the total to nearly 300, which are burning almost 945 square miles.

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Fires are growing quickly in the middle Kuskokwim. The North Aniak fire has now reached the river below Aniak, threatening the Crow Village area and Aniak itself, which is located across the river. Francis Mitchell is with the state division of forestry:

“Aniak has been. The fire been on the north side of the river still, but we’re still watching it closely. There are fire personnel there. Chuathbaluk is still under threat. That fire is probably going to come more to life or move, the south end of it.”

The community of Aniak is working to evacuate elders, young children, and people with respiratory problems in anticipation of heavier smoke. The Native Village of Napaimute sent a fire pump and crew to help protect the nearby small settlement of Crow Village from a fire that was approaching last night. Young volunteers knocked down trees and wet down the area to protect structures.

A Salt Lake City Type 2 crew arrived in Aniak yesterday.

Near Chuathbaluk, a fire has grown quickly to more than 15 hundred acres and was within two miles of town last night.

Further upriver, a fire came to life at 2 a.m. about a mile and a half outside Red Devil, a small community located below Sleetmute. Resident John Zeller spent the early morning hours taking valuables outside of his house.

“Portable generator, all my pictures, all of my important papers. I’m just taking everything important out of my house. I’m going to take my pickup truck to the river bank. We’re just getting ready.”

Crooked Creek has also been prepped by crews. The nearest fire is about three miles away. There are no official evacuations called for. Fire crews are in short supply all around the state. They are only responding to fires that risk villages and human lives.

A large fire is burning west of Aniak. (Photo courtesy of Mark Leary /NVN)
A large fire is burning west of Aniak. (Photo courtesy of Mark Leary /NVN)

—-10:05 a.m.—–

Fires are growing quickly in the middle Kuskokwim. The North Aniak fire has reached the river below Aniak, threatening the Crow Village area.

The Native Village of Napaimute sent a fire pump and crew to help protect the small settlement of Crow Village from a fire that was approaching. Young volunteers knocked down trees and wet down the area to protect structures.

A crew from Kalskag also responded to the more than 2,500 acre fire. 36 firefighters are now doing site protection work around Aniak. A Salt Lake City Type 2 IA crew arrived into Aniak yesterday, along with the Kalskag crew to help begin the site work. The fire is burning areas normally resistant to burning.

Fire crews are in short supply all around the state. They are only responding to fires that risk villages and human lives. 70 fires burn in southwest Alaska, and 291 statewide. A burn ban is in effect for southwest Alaska. More than 600-thousand acres have burned, including 166,000 in the southwest region.