Smokejumpers Race to Divert Seventy Mile Fire From Community of Eagle

Warm, mostly dry weather continues across much of the eastern interior, and that has fire managers concerned about future growth of the Seventy Mile fire in the eastern interior. It’s so far burning in remote country, north of the Seventy Mile River and away from the community of Eagle. Alaska Fire Service spokesman Sam Harrel says a planned burn out operation would blacken an area of heavy timber along the river to protect values on the other side.

Listen now:

“There are a couple of allotments and cabins in the area, but they are on the opposite side of the Seventy Mile Rivers from the fire.”

Harrel says smokejumpers on scene will take advantage of favorable conditions to burn out the area in case a future wind shift pushes the fire back toward the river and the Eagle area. He says another group of smokejumpers are protecting a homestead along the Yukon River at Trout Creek, near where another wildfire is burning.

“A lot of people will know this area along Trout Creek as the Sager Homestead. It’s a hospitality stop along the Yukon Quest Trail, and we have a group of smokejumpers in there with cabin protection on that but, that fire is still a good bit away from the cabin.”

The Trout and Seventy Mile fires are among four started by lightning in the Eagle area Sunday. Harrel says additional dry thunder storms in the region Monday are expected to yield more fires.

“There were over 500 lightning strikes around the state, a lot of them in that area, and the eastern Brooks Range, and so we’ll be patrolling to see if we can see any fires.”

The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center reported Tuesday, that 167 wildfires in Alaska so far this year, had burned about 6,500 acres.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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