Last night a group of us went out to check on the Hunker Summit fire. The three guys took their off road vehicles, and I went with the girls in a Jeep.
It’s a dry dust bowl out there. But the night was really clear. And really windy. Rather than much smoke covering the landscape, it seemed to be all bundled up in a plume again.
It was so clear, we could see at least 3 other fires in the distance. You can see another distant plume below, which is likely the Pigue Creek fire (currently mapped at 43,444 ha).
This Hunker Summit fire was last reported to be 7,513 hectares. Remember when we saw it the night it started a couple weeks ago?
While we stood watching last night, 4 helicopters worked in a circle pattern, filling their buckets, and then dropping them on the fire.
The Electra bomber was also working the fire, dropping retardant that is bright red. There are many gold mines in this area so they have been doing back burns from the roads to try to control the spread.
Jeff got a great video of the Electra dropping fire suppressant on the edge of the fire.
Today the conditions are much different. While it is still hot and dry, there is smoke everywhere. We heard the Hunker Summit fire was getting close to the North Klondike Highway yesterday, but then the wind shifted, keeping it burning parallel to the highway.
We drove down this evening to see if we could spot the fire. Sure enough, just south of Flat Creek, which is just a bit south of the Dempster Highway turnoff, we could see that the fire has already crested the last ridge before the highway.
The official update says this is still over 3 km from the highway. We were standing on the edge of the highway, and I was using my zoom lens for most of these. I have also altered them all so you can see more than just smoke.
There really werent many flames when we first started looking, but then they came quickly.
I guess it is all up to the wind now if this breaches the highway to Dawson. They aren’t fighting the fire here. It is in a wilderness zone, where wildfire is natural, so they are letting it burn and just protecting assets like mines and cabins.
This seems to anger people who want fireman to stomp out the fire instantly. While it is not only likely impossible, it also just makes everything that much older, drier, and more susceptible to wildfire on a massive scale. As long as there has been lightning, northern forests have burned and regenerated.
Here’s a snippet of the latest fire map. You can see Dawson, and the red flames are the fires. The yellow ones down south are new today and blocked the Alaskan Highway for awhile and evacuated a campground. The E symbols are Extreme fire hazard areas. Alaska is to the left of the gray line. They are hot and dry and burning all over in Alaska too.
You can find the most recent fire map here: https://yukon.ca/get-wildfire-updates
After 11pm tonight, we went up to the Midnight Dome overlooking town to see all the smoke. I did not doctor this next photo. It is that smokey!
Looking the other direction, the sun is really very orange in the smoke. That’s the Yukon River flowing off into the distance.
It is pretty fascinating to watch fire at this scale. We don’t feel overly concerned or worried. The fire is still far from town. It does seem likely that one of the fires may breach the highway, so we got some extra groceries and are keeping the vehicles full of fuel.