Alaska Fire Service - Military Zone
Bureau of Land Management
Ft. Wainwright, AK 99703, AK
DELTA JUNCTION, Alaska – The Alaska Incident Management Team wrapped up its long-term strategic planning just in time to be tested by dry and windy weather forecasted to move into the Oregon Lakes Fire area for the second time since it started on April 30.
The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning from noon through Saturday afternoon. Forecasted winds could cause rapid fire growth and likely lead to very visible smoke in Delta Junction and communities to the north of the fire. Strong southerly chinook winds will develop this afternoon along the north side of the Alaska Range and will continue through Saturday afternoon. South winds of 25-35 mph with gusts to 55 mph are possible near Delta Junction. Minimum relative humidity levels are expected to fall into the 20-30% range this afternoon and in the 25-30% range on Saturday afternoon in the Tanana Valley.
The first wind test, last Tuesday, was preceded by three days of cooler wetter weather and resulted in little growth, but lots of smoke. Yesterday’s warmer temperatures dried some of the fuels, which could make the difference in today’s fire activity. Regardless, smoke will likely impact nearby communities to the north.
For the second day in a row, only a few puffs of smoke were visible, mostly on the southern end, where the fire reached the green timber line and settled down. The timber, which is predominately white spruce with some birch, has been resistant to burning unlike the downed trees from a 2013 fire and dry grass where most of the fire activity has occurred. However, that could change as the summer continues with warmer, windier weather that typically persists in the Delta River drainage.
Meanwhile, the IMT will finish developing strategic options for safely protecting values such as private property, military infrastructure, timber, structures and communities from this early-season fire. The IMT is working with the BLM Alaska Fire Service Military Fire Management Zone, the U.S. Army Alaska Garrison, the BLM Eastern Interior Field Office and the Alaska Division of Forestry to develop this long-term plan. This remote fire was reported at about 1 p.m. on April 30, and so far, has been burning in an area that is unsafe for firefighters and low-flying fire suppression aircraft due to the likelihood of unexploded ordinance on the ground. It is burning mostly in downed trees from the 2013 Mississippi Fire and tall, dry grass on the west of the Delta River. It is burning in a limited protection area which typically means the fire will be left to function in its normal ecological role unless it threatens any structures or resources. It is not immediately threatening any structures, private property or military infrastructure. The community of Whitestone, which was threatened by the 2013 Mississippi Fire, is roughly 14 miles to the north and the state timber area is about 7 miles to the northeast. Both are on the west side of the Delta River.