June 14, 2015
Tim Mowry, (907) 356-5511
Tok, Alaska —Fire activity on the 8,447-acre Chisana River 2 Fire burning in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve and the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge near the Alaska/Canada border was moderate on Saturday after two days of wetting rains. Numerous smokes were observed along the western and southern flanks of the fire, including many along the perimeter with active flames visible. However, north winds are blowing the fire away from any structures or values of concern.
Activity is expected to pick up today with warmer, drier weather and conditions are expected to remain warm and dry through most of the week. The National Weather Service has issued a Fire Weather Watch for the area beginning at noon on Monday due to low relative humidity. Temperatures are expected to climb into the mid 70s today and for the next several days.
Personnel on Saturday installed sprinkler kits for structure protection on three remote, permitted cabins in the park and preserve that are threatened by the fire. Those cabins are the King City Cabin, the Stuver Creek Cabin and Upper Stuver Cabin. Protection measures have also been put in place for an administrative cabin on the Tetlin Refuge about seven miles north of the fire.
A National Park Service helicopter assisted with delivery and installation of a repeater on Saturday for improved communication. The plan for today is to install another remote automated weather station, continue structure protection and monitor the growth and direction of the fire.
Smoke from the fire is visible from the Alaska Highway but the road remains open. There has been no fire-related impact on traffic and none is expected at this time. The lightning-caused fire was reported on June 9 and is burning about 20 miles south of the Alaska Highway and approximately 25 miles west of the border.
The fire is located in a limited protection area, which allows land managers to let the fire take its natural course. In the boreal ecosystem of Interior Alaska, fire is an essential process that restores ecosystem health and helps to maintain species diversity. In the northeastern portion of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve and Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge, these fires have created a healthy mosaic of burned area, which has promoted species diversity. Of note was the 46,638 acre Chisana River Fire in 2013. That fire area buffers the eastern side of the Chisana River, where the Chisana 2 River fire is currently burning.
As the protecting agency for the area, the state 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. The Division of Forestry will take suppression action if structures and other values at risk identified by NPS and USFWS become threatened.
For information on the Chisana River 2 Fire, go to https://inciweb.nwcg.gov.