East Fork Fire and ApoonPass fires near St. Mary’s and Mt. Village

As of June 12th, 2022, the East Fork Fire has moved to within approximately three and a half miles of the village of St. Mary’s. Its progress has slowed somewhat due to slightly more favorable weather conditions, but the fire edge can now be seen from the road. It is currently at 121,831 acres. Fire that has become established east of the East Fork has increased the risk to Pilot Station but is still ten miles from the community. The Apoon Pass Fire to the northwest is growing to the south, but is still 24 miles north of Mountain Village, currently at 15,000 acres.

The fire began on May 31st, 2022, from a lightning strike. It is currently burning in an area of a mix of tundra, brush, and black spruce.

Operations: Operations focus on strengthening the primary and secondary firelines protecting St. Mary’s, Pitkas Point, Mountain Village, and allotments in between. Cabins on several allotments outside of the main fireline have been prepped for protection from the fire. Additional crews are expected tomorrow to assist in the effort. Crews are preparing to support a potential burning operation that could extend 20 miles between St. Mary’s and Mountain Village. This operation would reduce fuels between the active fire and the villages to create a buffer and slow or stop the fire’s advance. Residents should be prepared for additional smoke if this operation becomes necessary. Firefighters successfully protected structures and equipment at the East Fork fish weir yesterday. Today several firefighters will be in Pilot Station evaluating options for opening up pre-existing fireline around the community. The Apoon Pass Fire was evaluated from the air yesterday. No structures that are immediately threatened were identified.

Evacuations: No mandatory evacuation order in place. Voluntary relocations are continuing for St. Mary’s, Mountain Village, Pitkas Point, and Pilot Station. 145 residents are sheltered temporarily in Bethel.

Ready: St. Mary’s and Pitkas Point are currently in “Ready” position. The next 72 hours are critical.

Set: No communities at this time.

Go: No communities at this time.

Weather: Temperatures will cool slightly and humidity will rise a bit to moderate fire conditions, though winds are projected to remain steadily out of the north today. A low pressure is moving in from the west that will likely result in moderating conditions including increased cloud cover, higher humidity, and cooler temperatures by tomorrow or Tuesday. Importantly, the front may bring a wind switch to the southwest that would help push the fire away from the villages.

Smoke: Air Quality Advisory is in effect until June 12 at 12 PM. Air Quality will vary between GOOD and UNHEALTHY depending on wind flow and proximity to the fires.