Fire crews continue battle with Taixtsalda Hill fire, estimated at 4,700 acres

A map showing the location of the Taixtsalda Hill Fire (#357). The red dots signify heat detected by satellite. (Alaska Division of Forestry graphic)

Hot, dry weather in the Interior is bringing wildfires to life. The Taixtsalda Hill Fire near Tok is estimated at 4,700 acres, after being started Monday by an unknown cause. It’s burning on Tetlin Village Corporation land.

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State forestry spokesman Tim Mowry says Tuesday was spent assessing what’s at risk. He says three crews are assigned to the fire, and getting them into the locations targeted for protection, requires helicopter transport.

”It becomes a major operation when you’re dealing with 60 firefighters, three different crews that need to be shuttled in,” Mowry said.

Two other fires are also getting attention. An Alaska Fire Service crew is working the 25-acre Hughes Mountain Fire. AFS spokeswoman Beth Ipsen says it’s burning in volatile black spruce about four miles from the village of Hughes.

”There’s a continuous fuel between the fire and Hughes,” Ipsen said. “Even though the village of Hughes is on the other side of the river, we just don’t want to risk it.”

AFS Firefighters are also back on the long-burning Zitziana River fire south of Manly Hot Springs. The lightning-caused blaze battled since early June has now consumed nearly 47,000 acres. Ipsen says that includes a 20,000-acre run Monday and Tuesday toward Kindamina Lake, where there are cabins, and protection measures have been a priority for weeks.

”All the cabins on the east side, we put in protection measures. They’ve got blackline around the cabins, so they’re safe,” Ipsen said. “Now we’re working on the west side and putting blackline around the cabins on the west side. We feel that we’re in a good spot right now to where we don’t have to worry about the structures around Kindamina Lake.”

AFS crews are also tracking several lightning caused wildfires in the Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve. Ipsen says one of the blazes, the Dome Creek Fire, is being worked. She says firefighters are focused on protecting the Coal Creek Mining camp, 65 miles northwest of Eagle.

”Doing structure protection because there’s a lot of historical cabins,” Ipsen said.

The National Park Service has closed its Coal Creek and Slaven’s Road House facilities, which firefighters are using to stage operations.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.