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Late-season wildfire burns in spruce and tundra of northwestern Alaska

  • Author: Yereth Rosen
    | Arctic
  • Updated: October 15, 2016
  • Published October 15, 2016

A late-season wildfire estimated to be about 350 acres was burning Saturday in Northwest Alaska near the Inupiat village of Noorvik.

That fire was first reported on Wednesday and has been burning since then, said Beth Ipsen, spokesperson for the Bureau of Land Management's Alaska Fire Service.

As of Saturday, it was producing some smoke on the northeast corner but otherwise was not active, Ipsen said.

"It's smoldering in one area of the perimeter," she said.

A Galena-based fire manager flew over the site Saturday and provided the acreage estimate and status report, Ipsen said.

The fire broke out in an area of spruce and tundra near the Kobuk River, Ipsen said. It is separated from Noorvik, home to about 700 people, by a series of sloughs and lakes and is not considered a danger to the community, she said.

"It's not threatening anything and it likely won't because of terrain between the fire and the village," she said.

The fire is about 5 miles northeast of Noorvik, Ipsen said.

It is unknown how the fire started, but it is believed to be human-caused, Ipsen said.

Although the Alaska fire season technically runs from mid-April to September, there have been fires outside of that period, she said.

This year's first wildfire was in February, sparked by training activity on military property near Delta Junction.

On Sept. 29, 20 wildfires were active in Alaska, along with two prescribed fires, according to a status report from the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center. That list did not include the Noorvik-area fire or a new wind-whipped wildfire near Sutton.

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