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Copper Center, AK – Cooler weather on Tuesday moderated fire behavior in the upper Tanana River area. The area burned by the Chisana River 2 Fire now totals 39,230 acres. This lightning-caused fire began June 9 in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve and has burned into the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. The fire is burning along the west side of the Chisana River about 15 miles south of the Alaska Highway and 15 miles from the Canadian border.
On Thursday afternoon a new lightning caused fire was reported in the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge four miles west of the Chisana River 2 Fire. Due to the presence of an on-going lynx study site nearby, Tok Area Forestry fire managers responded via Helitack with initial attack resources. The firefighters, supported with water bucket drops from the helicopter, contained the half acre Stuver Creek Fire within two hours.
A Type 3 team is actively monitoring fire growth and implementing structure protection plans for cabins at moderate risk from this fire. The two cabins closest to the fire are the King City Cabin and Stuver Creek Cabin. Firefighters have set up sprinklers around the cabins to wet down the area. Additional protection measures may be taken if the fire reaches predetermined 'trigger points' established in the plans. The fire is expected to continue growing. At this time the fire poses a minimal threat to the community of Chisana.
Fire managers continue working to limit impacts from this fire to travelers along the Alaska Highway corridor. Smoke from this and other wildland fires may be affecting visibility along the Alaska Highway between Tok and the Canadian border. Motorists are urged to drive with lights on and slow down when visibility is poor or firefighting equipment is present. Flaggers and pilot cars will be used when conditions call for their use in order to keep traffic moving safely through the area affected by smoke from the fires.
As the wildland fire protection agency for the area, the Alaska Division of Forestry office in Tok is working closely with interagency managers from the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs to monitor the fire and prepare appropriate actions to protect life, property, and travel on the Alaska Highway. The fire is burning in a limited protection area and no suppression efforts have been taken thus far. Federal land managers have opted to let the fire take its natural course, as fire in the boreal forest of Alaska is an essential process that restores ecosystem health and helps to maintain species diversity. Once again, agency managers will step in when measures are necessary to protect life or property.
For information on the Chisana River 2 Fire, go to https://inciweb.nwcg.gov. For other statewide fire information, visit http://akfireinfo.com or the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center website at http://fire.ak.blm.gov.