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Southwest Alaska Fires


Incident Overview

Bell Creek Fire 6/5/2017 Matt Snyder

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Weather permitting, firefighters will be released this weekend from the only two wildfires still being staffed in the Alaska Division of Forestry’s Southwest Area between McGrath and Dillingham.

Tentative demobilization is scheduled for Friday for the 42 personnel on the 220-acre Paimiut Fire approximately 20 miles southeast of Holy Cross. The 33 personnel still working on the 2,653-acre Bell Creek Fire near the Kuskokwim River village of Crooked Creek will be pulled off that fire by the end of shift on Saturday.

Those two fires are the last of more than a dozen fires that were started by lightning in the Southwest Area over the past two weeks that still have personnel assigned to them. As of Wednesday morning, there were 14 fires still listed as active in the Southwest Area, the majority of which are burning in limited suppression areas. The Division of Forestry is regularly monitoring unstaffed fires from the air.

On Tuesday, the Yukon Type 2 Initial Attack Crew continued to grid and mop up any hot spots found along the perimeter of the Bell Creek Fire. The crew was pulled off the fireline at the end of shift and will spend today removing equipment that was put in place to protect structures in Crooked Creek when the fire was threatening the village. The crew will be flown out Friday and remaining overhead and backhaul will be flown off the fire on Saturday.

On the Paimiut Fire, six BLM Alaska Fire Service smokejumpers and two Type 2 crews from Hooper Bay and Chevak spent Tuesday working the tail and right flank of the fire to extinguish any hot spots found 300 feet in from the fire’s edge. The fire has many fingers separated by lakes and a 5-mile perimeter. The fire was declared contained Tuesday evening but firefighters will continue to secure the fire’s right flank 300 feet in from the edge on Wednesday and Thursday before a planned demobilization on Friday.

The other unstaffed, active fires in the Southwest Area are being monitored by air to ensure they don’t pose a threat to any values at risk.

Basic Information

Current as of
Incident TypeWildfire
LocationSouthwest Alaska
Incident CommanderAlaska Division of Forestry

Current Situation

Total Personnel75
Size68,573 Acres
Fuels Involved

Tundra, black spruce and mixed hardwoods

Significant Events

The Division of Forestry is monitoring 14 active fires in the Southwest Area, only two of which have personnel working on them.


Planned Actions

Continue gridding and mopping up on the remaining two staffed fires and preparing for demobilization on both fires Friday and Saturday. Continue monitoring unstaffed fires.

Current Weather

Weather Concerns

Sunnier, warmer and drier weather is expected in Southwest Alaska with isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon, bringing lightning, rain and outflow winds. A low pressure system in the Bering Sea will bring cooler, wetter weather to the area next week.

Unit Information

Southwest Area Forestry
McGrath, 02 99627

Incident Contact

Tim Mowry
Phone: 907-356-5512
Hours: M-F, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., SS, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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National Wildfire Coordinating Group U.S. Forest Service Bureau of Land Managemen Bureau of Indian Affairs Fish and Wildlife Service National Park Service National Association of State Foresters U.S. Fire Administration
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