Wildfire Near Donlin Gold Mine Site Grows

Credit Katie Basile / KYUK

It was a quiet weekend for wildfires burning in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Scattered pockets of rain prevented new fires from breaking out, but at least one fire has grown.

The Smith Creek Fire, which is burning a mile away from the Donlin Gold mine site, has expanded to more than 67,000 acres since last week and is threatening 80 structures at the mine site.

Donlin Gold has suspended its operations and evacuated all 30 employees from the site. The company was evaluating the site for its dam safety certification, a major step it must complete before mining. Donlin Gold spokesperson Kristina Woolston says that it is unclear how the fire will impact their timeline to complete the certification.

Meanwhile, the McCally Creek Fire near the village of Red Devil is holding steady at a little more than 3,000 acres. A wildland firefighting crew remains stationed at Red Devil to protect the community.