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Isom Creek Fire Grows Over the Weekend

Cammy Roy

A wildfire along the Dalton Highway is getting a lot of attention from firefighters. The Isom Creek Fire has burned over 2,000 acres southeast of where the Dalton Highway crosses the Yukon River, in an area where there are Alaska Native land allotments. Alaska Fire Service spokesperson Beth Ipsen says the blaze

was sparked by lightning Friday and was immediately attacked from the air and on the ground, but still grew considerably Saturday.

"There're strike conditions up there, buring predominantly through black spruce. And it grew from 200 acres to about 1,000 acres in a matter of a few hours. It burned mostly to the southwest, so it actually crossed the Dalton Highway in between Mile 47 and 52.”

Ipsen says the highway remained open and that the aggressive air and ground assault continued on Sunsday.

"We had water scoopers both large and small, we had air tanker dropping some more retardants, we've had helicopters dropping buckets of water on it. Meanwhile we've had more crews.”

Ipsen says they include privately managed contract Interior village-based crews, a national first for the agency.

"What's unique about that, it they're similar to the Type 2 EFF crews, but different from EFF crews that are hired on an as-needed emergency-hire basis, these crews can perform other things than just getting assigned to a fire, they can also do  fuel mitigation.  It's more of a stable employment opportunity. There's actually a contract company that manages the team, where with an EFF crew, AFS is the one doing the management, doing the training.”    

Ipsen says three contract crews are drawing fire fighters from regional hub villages across the Interior including Minto, Ft. Yukon and Huslia.  A Type 3 incident management team is taking over the Isom Fire response today.