Smokejumpers, villagers work to keep Levelock Fire at bay

Firefighter crews from Hooper Bay and Chevak to assist

by akfirepios

Aug. 20, 2019

Eight Alaska smokejumpers, aided by heavy equipment and villagers, were able to secure two sections of the Levelock Fire that crossed the dozer line and encroached into the village late Monday night. As of this Tuesday, there were no structures lost in the village of Levelock. Smokejumpers estimate the fire has burned as many as 5,000 acres to the west of the small Bristol Bay-area village.

Smokejumpers are utilizing local resources including villagers operating heavy equipment to create fuel breaks around the village and some interior buildings in the southwest corner of the village threatened by the fire. Part of the effort is creating berms outside the village.

Due to prolonged hot and dry conditions in the area, the fire has been hard to control and extinguish. However, unlike thick tundra mat sitting atop permafrost that is typical in Alaska, the tundra mat surrounding Levelock is significantly thinner and sits atop a sand-based soil. This is helpful for building firelines by digging down to the mineral soil to remove any burnable material to prevent the spread of the fire.

Winds of 15-20 mph pushed the fire yesterday after it started to northwest of the village. Winds have since died down. The fire received light precipitation with more predicted, aiding firefighters and villagers with keeping the fire at bay.

Smokejumpers are planning a burn operation Tuesday morning to remove the burnable vegetation and to create a buffer between the fire and the village. More firefighters are expected to join the efforts in the upcoming days.

More firefighters on the way to help with Levelock Fire

Aug. 21, 2019

More firefighters are on the way to help efforts on the fire burning along the edge of Levelock in the Bristol Bay area. Type 2 emergency firefighter crews from Hooper Bay and Chevak are scheduled to arrive in Levelock today to help the eight smokejumpers and community members already fighting to keep the Levelock Fire (#752) at bay.

Two small sections of fire crossed a dozer line late Monday night. Smokejumpers working closely with local residents operating heavy equipment and were able to secure these sections that came close to the dump and a couple of homes.

Smokejumpers set up a system of pump and hoses around areas of the town to spray down the edges of the fire and the town to keep the fire from further encroaching into the community.

Smokejumpers are also planning smaller burnouts to clean up some pockets of unburned vegetation to create a protective buffer from the fire. The fire is estimated to have burned approximately 5,000 acres.

Over the past few days, community members used heavy equipment to clear vegetation down to the mineral soil on the west and south sides of the town since it started late Sunday night.

For more information, contact the Alaska Interagency Fire Information Office at (907)356-5511.