Alaska Fire Service cautions Dalton Highway drivers due to Isom Creek Fire

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska. (KTVF) The Isom Creek Fire, located south of the Yukon River, crossed the Dalton Highway between mileposts 47 and 52. The fire has grown to 1,535 acres since lightning started the fire on Friday.

The Isom Creek Fire (#187) burning southeast of the Dalton Highway Yukon River Crossing picked up activity Saturday night and created this plume. This photo was taken from a helicopter at 11 p.m. (Photo by Cammy Roy, BLM AFS)

Public Information Officer Sam Harrel with the Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service says they are asking drivers to be cautious as they enter the area.

“Drivers can expect smoke on the road and a lot of firefighting equipment and firefighters. Please drive slow, and drive with your lights on. Don't drive into dense smoke -- if you can't see, turn on your flashers, get to the edge of the road and wait until it's safe to go clear. [Again], please drive slow, look out for everybody,” said Harrel.

There are several crews on the ground, water-scooping aircraft, air tankers deploying retardant, and helicopters dropping water -- but the fire is resisting controls. As of Monday, there were 114 personnel assigned to the fire.

“The Dalton Highway is an important economic corridor for servicing the North Slope, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, Pump Station 6 which is right there in the area, and all the infrastructure that’s at the Yukon River crossing,” said Harrel.

Harrel says because of the complexity and the location of the fire, the Type 2 Alaska Incident Management Black Team was ordered, which will be briefed on Tuesday and assume command of the fire on Wednesday.

“What this will do is allow the management team to take over the operations of suppressing the fire... and allow the local resources, BLM Alaska Fire Service, and the smokejumpers to return back to their duty stations so they can be available for initial attack. We are still expecting more lightning associated with some not-very-wet rains and afternoon showers. That portion of the state up there, north of the Yukon River and the Upper Yukon River Flats, is very dry. For all the rain that other portions of the state have been getting, it just has not rained up there. The duff layers are dry, the fine fuels are dry, the heavy fuels are starting to dry out... it’s very much a tinderbox up there,” said Harrel.

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