Crews continue to battle blaze southeast of Tok, now estimated at 730 acres

A view of the smoke column from the north side of the Taixtsalda Hill Fire taken during Monday’s initial attack. (Photo by Tim Whitesell/Alaska Division of Forestry)

There were five new wildfires detected across the interior on Monday, including one near Tok that’s drawing a major response. The Taixtsalda Hill Fire is 38 miles southeast of Tok, and 16 miles southwest of Northway.

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State Forestry spokesman Tim Mowry says the fire, suspected to be human caused, was attacked aggressively from the air Monday.

”Three water-scooping aircraft dropping water on it,” Mowry said. “We had a helicopter dropping water on it, and we had an air retardant tanker making multiple retardant drops on it. There are eight smokejumpers that were deployed on the fire.”

Mowry says three ground crews are joining the fight today, which as of last night, had burned an estimated 730 acres.

”To the size now where it’s gonna be pretty difficult to catch, so we’re looking to do point protection on Native allotments or any cabins, structures in the area,” Mowry said.

Three of the other new wildfires detected yesterday are in the Galena zone, and lightning caused. One is being fought. The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center reports that two smokejumpers are working the nine-acre Shungnak River fire, near the Bornite Mine.

Record or near record warm temperatures are expected again today for a swath of the interior, with highs in 80s. The hottest readings are forecast to be near the Alaska-Canada Border.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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