ST. MARY’S, Alaska (KTUU) – The East Fork Fire is five miles from the village of St. Mary’s as Alaska’s Type 2 Green Incident Response Team took charge of the response to the largest blaze state asset.
The East Fork Fire started on May 31 and was caused by a lightning strike. After fire size estimates remained stagnant for days at more than 50,000 acres due to an inability to get close enough to the perimeter to accurately measure the East Fork Fire, the management team incidents has now charted the size at 108,347 acres. The blaze is five miles from St. Mary’s and 4.5 miles from the main fire line, and there are 180 firefighters on the scene.
“Right now we have this status ready, and this management decision point has been set at about a threshold of about five miles from the village to be ready, and then about a threshold of one mile for the whole “said Incident Management Team spokesman Emery Johnson. . “At that one mile mark they are, the firefighters are preparing to do a back burn.”
Four communities are at the ready alert level. None raised to settle or leave.
There is no mandatory evacuation yet, but residents of St. Mary’s, Mountain Village, Pitkas Point and Pilot Station are urged to be prepared to evacuate if the East Fork Fire continues to move south on the Yukon River.
“Overnight, the fire continued to spread south towards St. Mary’s, but at a slower rate than it was,” the latest said. Incident Management Team Position Lily. “Last night at 2 a.m., firefighters successfully implemented a defensive burnout, or firing operation, on the west side of the East Fork of the Andreafsky River to protect equipment and structures near of the fish weir. They are currently burning on the east side of the spillway to protect the structures there.
The Incident Management Team took over from the Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Department at 8 a.m. Saturday and is led by Peter Butteri. An air quality advisory is in effect until noon Sunday.
“An additional Line of Control is being constructed between St. Mary’s and Mountain Village to further protect nearby housing estates,” the Incident Management Team post said. “Heavy equipment work continues to reinforce the emergency line north of the village. Existing lines are reinforced and plumbed with pipes and pumps. Boats transport personnel and equipment to protect structures above St. Mary’s.
Additionally, planes continued to drop retardant between East Fork Fire and St. Mary’s. Johnson said if the fire is within a mile, firefighters can engage in a back burn after establishing a safety perimeter behind the line of fire.
“What they’re doing is they’ve introduced the fire into the landscape from this hold function towards the fire to get rid of the fuel in between and that kind of creates another break, so it’s It’s a fire-to-fire type fight,” Johnson said.
Johnson said additional crews needed to be brought in to help existing personnel. The East Fork Fire is now responsible for burning more than a quarter of all wildfire area in Alaska this season.
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