Wildfire Bulletin #42
9/28/2006 - 11:00 AM
2006 Fire Season Winds Down
With the 2006 fire season coming to an end on September 30, there have been a total of 79 fires throughout the Territory, burning 106,000 hectares of forest. Compared to other years (since 1950), 2006 ranks 38th with respect to the number of fires in the Yukon.
The Watson Lake District had the most fires this season, with seventeen fires. Watson Lake also recorded the largest area burned with 74,000 hectares, mostly in the wilderness zone. There were no fires fought in Teslin in 2006 as was the case last year.
The first fire of the season was reported in late April in the old Fox Lake burn. The last fire fought this season was in the Southern Lakes District near Marsh Lake on September 16.
In 2006, 56 fires were caused by lightning. Lightning activity was below normal this year with the exception of northern Yukon which had both above normal amounts of lightning and precipitation.
During the summer of 2006 temperatures were near seasonal normals while precipitation and lightning were below normal. Yukoners may find this surprising since the only prolonged warm, dry period occurred under an upper ridge for a two week period in June. After the ridge broke down there was significant lightning and precipitation. However most of the rain missed the area between Braeburn and Pelly Farm which remained dry throughout most of the summer.
In mid June extra resources were brought into the Yukon including an Electra L-188 air tanker group from Alberta, and seven, three person initial attack firefighting crews. This was done as a precautionary measure as the fire danger was high to extreme throughout much of the territory as an upper ridge remained briefly over us.
In late June, thousands of lightning strikes in Alberta resulted in Yukon firefighters and aircraft being exported to northern Alberta. In mid-August Yukon firefighters were sent to the United States to assist with wildfires in Washington State and Oregon. The western US was hit with extreme burning conditions that month and extra resources were brought in from Canada, Australia and New Zealand to assist with firefighting efforts.
The Mt. Hansen fire near Pelly Farm and the Felsemner Ridge Fire near Beaver Creek utilized the most number of resources during the 2006 fire season. The Mt Hansen fire was a holdover lightning fire that started on June 22. There were numerous values in the area of the fire, including Ft. Selkirk and Pelly Farm. Several people who had residences in the vicinity of the fire were asked to leave while firefighters deployed sprinkler units to protect them. Rain several days later slowed the growth of the fire significantly and fire crews and equipment were gradually demobilized from the fire which is estimated at 1300 hectares.
In July, a wilderness zone fire in the Beaver Creek District caused some concern for highway travelers on the Alaska Highway and residents of Beaver Creek. The Felsenmer Ridge fire was being monitored closely by fire officials and by mid-July with increased fire activity, additional resources were deployed to Beaver Creek. The Beaver Creek fire became WFM’s top priority with the fire within 10 miles of the community.
Crews from Alaska joined Yukon firefighters and several volunteer fire departments from around the territory. Fireguards were reinforced around the community in addition to sprinkler systems and hoselines being set up. By the end of July, a significant rainfall reduced the threat to the community and resources were fully demobilized by August 11. The Felsenmer Ridge fire is estimated at 8,800 hectares.
Suppression costs for 2006 are estimated at $5.7million. Last season, $4.8million was spent to manage fires in the Yukon. Wildland Fire Management has an annual fire suppression budget of $6.5million.
The fire danger rating is currently low throughout the territory. Yukoners are reminded that burning permits are required for the burning of brush and debris between April 1 and September 30. Please contact your local district for information on safe burning. For general information call 867-456-3845.
Wildland Fire Management thanks the public for continuing to report wildfires.
For Yukon Wildfire updates, call 1-800-826-4750