News Release

First Wildfires of 2020 Discovered in Denali

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Date: June 2, 2020
Contact: G.W. Hitchcock, (907) 683-9583

On Monday, June 1, a logistics aircraft from the Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (BLM AFS) – Tanana Fire Management Zone, while flying over the northern portion of Denali National Park and Preserve, discovered a wildfire approximately 23 miles north of Kantishna (mile marker 93), near the confluence of Moose Creek and the Bearpaw River. The fire (#145, Bearpaw River fire) was identified from the air as covering 5-10 acres and burning in a spruce island on the tundra flats. Approximately 75% of the spruce island had burned. The detector did not observe tundra actively burning. The fire perimeter was active on the heel and flank with isolated torching. Fire spread was to the north with winds out of the south. The National Park Service (NPS) is planning to fly two firefighters to the site to assess potential threats to a cabin in the vicinity. Poor weather conditions are currently delaying this effort.
There is moderate potential for fire growth in the coming weeks. Fire managers will continue to monitor the fire and manage it for resource benefit and other objectives. 

Also, earlier in the day, an NPS wildlife technician working in the vicinity of Wonder Lake reported a smoke south of the McKinley River near the confluence of the Clearwater and McKinley Rivers (south of the McKinley Bar). An NPS helicopter was dispatched to conduct an initial size up of the fire (#140, Wonder fire), but was unable to find the smoke due to persistent light precipitation in the area throughout the day. Fire managers will continue to monitor the area for any possible fires.

Fire in Alaska’s boreal forest is an essential process that restores ecosystem health and helps maintain species diversity. The NPS works closely with its interagency partners, neighboring communities, and other stakeholders to balance the risks and benefits of wildland fire when making decisions on fire management. Landowners can assist these efforts, and decrease the potential risk to their property, by taking steps to make cabins and other structures more defensible against wildfire.  The public can find more information about defensible space and being ready for wild fire by visiting the Alaska Firewise website or reading the Alaska Firewise pamphlet.  


Last updated: June 2, 2020

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755


(907) 683-9532
A ranger is available 9 am—4 pm daily (except on major holidays). If you get to the voicemail, please leave a message and we'll call you back as soon as we finish with the previous caller.

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