The lightning-caused South Fork Salcha Fire was reported late Thursday morning (June 8th, 2017). It is burning in a limited protection area approximately 1 ½ miles north of the Pogo Mine Road at milepost 25. The primary fuels are black and white spruce.
Because the fire is burning in a limited suppression area and there are no values at risk that are threatened, the Alaska Division of Forestry has taken no suppression action on the fire and are monitoring it by air and from the Pogo Mine Road. The last size estimate on Friday was 3,600 acres but it is likely bigger.
The fire put up an impressive pyrocumulus cloud Friday afternoon and evening when it progressed southwest into pockets of black spruce in the Gilles Creek drainage. The recent hot, dry temperatures have also helped fuel the fire. The smoke column rose to about 30,000 feet before it collapsed late in the evening with cooler temperatures and higher relative humidity.
The fire became active again on Saturday and put up another large smoke column visible from Fairbanks and Delta. With winds out of the east, most growth is to the west and northwest. Residents in the Fairbanks area will likely see and smell smoke as a result of the increase in fire activity.
The fire did receive some precipitation on Saturday afternoon that helped moderate fire activity. Old burns scars and dozer lines from previous fire will help prevent the fire from impacting the Pogo Mine. The trans-Alaska pipeline corridor is 20 miles west of the fire and is not threatened.
Fire managers will continue monitoring the fire to ensure that it does not pose a threat.