Rural Alaska

7 people stranded at Southwest Alaska fish camp after Yukon River freezes over, troopers say

Seven people remain stranded at a fish camp near Emmonak after the Yukon River froze late last week, Alaska State Troopers said.

The group was headed back to Pilot Station from Emmonak and stopped at the fish camp Thursday night, troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel said. The camp is on the Yukon River about 20 miles east of Emmonak in Southwest Alaska. The group planned to take off Friday but the river froze over and they were unable to leave because of the ice conditions, McDaniel said.

“The ice is just too thick for us to run some kind of boat on the ice, however, the ice is too thin to be able to support a snowmachine or any kind of vehicle on the ice,” McDaniel said. “And there’s no overland routes to get to this area.”

The group had shelter, heat and supplies and was communicating with troopers using an InReach device, troopers wrote in an online alert. Food and medicine were dropped at the camp Sunday with assistance from Grant Air, troopers said.

The ice has prevented the group from leaving on their own and McDaniel said poor weather in surrounding areas has prevented rescuers from reaching them by air for several days.

“That includes really bad turbulence between Anchorage and the area and then some pretty thick ice fog as well in the area, which creates some pretty drastic icing issues,” McDaniel said.

There was no immediate danger because the group has supplies and shelter, but troopers are working with other search and rescue groups to find the best way to transport the group from the fish camp, McDaniel said.

“Right now our focus is on finding some kind of a helicopter in the region that can respond to that area,” he said.