Fire crews from around the state and lower 48 arrive to fight nearby fires

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska The long, hot, dry days of summer in Fairbanks also bring the risk of wildfires to the interior. There are multiple small lightening caused fires burning near Fairbanks.

The Yukon Flats hotshot crew from here in Alaska and the Lewis & Clark hotshot crew from Montana have been flown in to help fight the Caribou Creek Fire currently burning about seven and a half miles off of 18 mile Chena Hot Springs Road.

Public Information Officer for the Alaska Division of Forestry, Tim Mowry said that with all the fires their resources are being stretched thin. Because of this multiple hotshot crews from the lower 48 have been flown up to Alaska to assist with firefighting efforts across the state. Fire officials have also brought in fire crews from Alaska Villages.

There are currently two staffed fires burning near Fairbanks and one fire that they are watching.

The Caribou Creek fire is burning about seven and a half miles off of 18 mile Chena Hot Springs Road. There are currently 145 personal on the fire but by tomorrow there are expected to close to 200 people working the fire. Mowry said the fire is burning deep in the roots which causes trees to fall over and then “become ground fuel and they will hold heat for a long, long time and just smolder, so that really makes things difficult for these guys. But they are making good progress with that even with this hot weather they are using aircraft to drop water on that fire from strategic spots to help the crews on the ground.”

One of the crews flown in to help with the Caribou Creek Fire is the Yukon Flats Crew. Benjamin Peter of Venetie, Alaska has been doing firefighting since 2003 and is the crew boss of the Yukon Flats Crew.
“Being a crew boss you just got to make sure everybody is ready… their ID’s, their boots, just ready to fight fire,” Peter said.

The Lewis and Clark Hotshots also arrived today from Montana. John Miller has been doing firefighting for three years but this is his first time in Alaska. He said he is looking forward to experiencing Alaska and working with the people up here.

“Everybody is pretty friendly already in Alaska, it’s a pretty cool state,” Miller said. “Just looking forward to getting some work done.”

The hotshots were flown out to the Hayes Creek Fire to replace the smokejumpers that were dropped there last night. The Hayes Creek Fire is burning about a mile off of the Chatanika River and seven miles west of the Elliot Highway. The fire is only two and a half acres and Mowry said they should have it secured by tonight and then the crews will be sent to the larger Caribou Creek Fire.

Mowry said with this being Solstice weekend and the hot dry conditions they just encourage everyone to be safe and not cause any fires.

“We don’t want any human caused fires. We have enough on our plate with these lightning caused fires,” Mowry said.