Wildfire season has begun in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. A large fire near Akiachak and a smaller one near Scammon Bay began around May 24.
The fire still burning as of May 25 near Akiachak is large, about 100 acres, said Alaska Division of Forestry spokesperson Tim Mowry. The fire is located about 2 miles south of Akiachak, on the opposite side of the Kuskokwim River as the village. No injuries or deaths have been reported as a result of the fire.
Akiachak Police Chief Anne Charles said that four or five houses at fish camps have burned down. Charles and several tribal police officers were the first to respond to the fire on the evening of May 24, and were there until around 5 a.m. on May 25. At that point, she said that the fire was small enough to fight with 5 gallon buckets of water from the river, and by stomping on it.
“We contained some of it, and this morning I got another call saying that it started up again,” Charles said.
The fire grew to 200 acres. At 2:45 p.m. on May 25, the Division of Forestry dispatched a dozen smoke jumpers from Fairbanks to the fire near Akiachak. Mowry said that they are focused on preventing any further fish camps from being destroyed. Mowry also said that initial reports indicate that a discarded lit cigarette may have started the fire.
The wildfire near Scammon Bay is much smaller than the one near Akiachak, and is also not threatening the village. Mowry said that there are no injuries or deaths reported, but some fish camps may be threatened. He said that thermal imaging satellites detected a fire 6 to 7 miles southwest of Scammon Bay on May 24. He said as of May 25, the fire was only 2 acres in size and was headed west, towards the coast. The state has not deployed any firefighters to the fire near Scammon Bay, primarily because smoke jumpers are occupied with other fires.