Officials say a wildfire burning in a military training area near Delta Junction is being strategically addressed by crews both in the air and on the ground.
Buried munitions are adding another concern for crews battling the 100 Mile Creek Fire in the Donnelly Training Area, which has already been burning for close to a month now, said Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Mel Slater.
“The fact that the fire is in a potential impact area for munitions, we have to make sure we don’t put firefighters in immediate danger,” Slater said.
The circumstances being as they are have required firefighters to take the offensive on the fire primarily to the air, Slater said. That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty for ground crews to do, though.
“We have been able to introduce fighters on the ground and are putting in a control line to help the fire from spreading to the north,” Slater said.
The fire began May 13, and to date crews have reached about 25 percent containment. Warmer temperatures and winds blowing from the south have contributed to fire’s expansion, which has spread to 19,543 affected acres, Slater said.
The 290 personnel, making up roughly 11 crews and at least 24 smoke jumpers will prioritize the fire spreading to the north of the training area, where there are residential communities. Slater noted, though the communities are in no immediate danger right now, given any number of circumstances, including shifting winds, warm weather or generally dry conditions that could quickly change.
The environment surrounding the fire is a known area to be populated with black spruce, tundra and other hard woods, Slater said. Presently, Slater said crews are experiencing as much as a tenth of an inch of rain, which is helping.
Slater expects military personnel to contribute to battling the fire as explosives have the potential of negatively impacting many facets of the fire fight. Explosive ordinance division members will be working to diffuse any live explosives in the area. So far at least one such device has been safely detonated, Slater said.
There have been no reported injuries, Slater said.