The Arctic Sounder

Smokejumpers to respond to a fire north of Selawik

Fire managers planned to respond Monday to a fire that broke 20 miles north of Selawik.

The fire was discovered on June 21 after a series of thunderstorms with lightning around the state, said Beth Ipsen, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service.

Selawik residents spotted the blaze.

“I saw smoke in the mountains,” resident Tanya Ballot said. “I reported it to BLM.”

On Monday, the fire was just under 500 acres, Ipsen said.

“When it gets to 500 acres, that’s considered a large fire,” she said. “But here in Alaska, we have a lot of fires that get to that size.”

Currently, Ipsen said that the fire is still relatively far from the village, and the area in between is marshy, which would slow the fire down.


“It is burning through tundra black spruce into that black spruce is what’s holding the heat on this fire,” Ipsen said.

In other places around the state, thunderstorms on Sunday brought almost 7,000 lightning strikes, according to the Monday update from Alaska Wildland Fire Information. In Southwest Alaska, there were 31 active fires. In the Fairbanks area, responders were focused on an over 50,000-acre McDonald Fire.

More lightning was on the forecast in the upcoming days around the state.

Alena Naiden

Alena Naiden writes about communities in the North Slope and Northwest Arctic regions for the Arctic Sounder and ADN. Previously, she worked at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.