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East Fork Fire two-thirds contained

East Fork Fire
East Fork Fire
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 5:52 PM AKDT
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ST. MARY’S, Alaska (KTUU) - The East Fork Fire in Southwest Alaska is two-thirds contained, according to the latest update from the Type 2 Incident Management Team.

The fire has grown only 22,074 acres since Tuesday, aided by favorable weather and restricted by a large contingency of firefighting personnel on the scene. The latest update from the Alaska Fire Service shows the size of the East Fork Fire at 153,721 acres, located 3.7 miles northwest of St. Mary’s. The nearby Apoon Pass Fire is 66,969 acres and is located 24 miles north of Mountain Village.

“The strategy for the East Fork Fire is to confine or suppress approximately 58% of the fire boundary, the southern portion outside of the wilderness boundary,” the fire service reported. “The northern portion of the fire (about 42%) is burning into the Andreafsky Wilderness and the strategy there is point protection of allotments, but not to control spread of the fire. Of the 58% of the boundary that will be contained, 67% has been completed. When the fire boundary is marked as contained, it means we have confidence the fire will not cross that line again.”

A community meeting was held at 4 p.m. to discuss the recent developments of the fire with residents of St. Mary’s. The villages of St. Mary’s and Pitkas Point remain in “ready” positions. Crews have contained the southern portion of the fire nearest to St. Mary’s, and also established a containment line between the north fork and east fork of the Andreafsky River.

A temporary flight restriction remains in effect as crews work on containing the active edges of the fire — the western flank and southeastern edge. Scattered showers are expected to pass over the area, but not carry enough rain to dampen the ground. Also lingering Friday is a chance of thunderstorms, according to the fire service.

“Scattered rain showers provide favorable weather to dampen fire activity and significant stretches of the fire edge have been contained,” the fire service wrote. “The team continues to conduct assessments of allotments and other values that could be in the path of the northerly expanding fires.”

Burning in a limited management area without staffed responders is the Contact Creek Fire, which has grown to 10,321 acres according to the incident management team. The fire is burning 40 miles southeast of King Salmon and started May 29. The fire remains 20 miles from the nearest Native allotment.

The fire service reported 13 new fires on Friday, and 272 so far this season. There were 1,941 lightning strikes on Friday. Thus far, nearly one million acres have burned in wildfires this year.

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