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Iowithla River fire no longer grows towards Dillingham

Brian Venua
Smoke from the Iowithla River fire seen from Wood River Rd. Taken Friday, June 17

The Iowithla river fire near Dillingham is now no longer growing towards the community according to an update from the Alaska interagency coordination center on Saturday.

It was last logged at 27,496 acres and was about 9 miles from the town before fire boss planes dropped water on the flames to stop its growth.

Planes were unable to drop water on the fire's northwest border, however no known structures are being threatened.

Public Information Officer Brentwood Reid says the division’s goal was to keep the southern and western fronts contained within natural barriers such as creeks and rivers.

“Those aircraft, primarily, their focus was to reinforce the natural barrier of that creek on the west side that it seems to be holding up on,” he said.

Reid says the Kokwok River fire, which has burned 25,977 acres, has calmed down as well.

“The Kokwok fire which is north is showing just a little bit of heat," he said. "Today, on the very far northwest, sort of very northern perimeter, very minimal.”

On the east side of the region, the Pauls Creek and Contact Creek fires have been reduced to smolders. They have burned at least 10,000 acres each. Reid says the Division of Forestry will continue to survey the area for hot spots.

“We are monitoring that with aerial infrared satellites and then of course, we've got the fire bosses down there in King Salman and helicopters in King Salman that are working on fire 239 that fly through that area regularly," he said. "And so right now it's not showing any heat on the infrared.”

Smoke has cleared in Dillingham over the past several days. But when fires burn in the area, smoke can cause breathing problems and the Dillingham Fire Department recommends sensitive or compromised individuals wear N-95 masks when it’s smoky outside.

Masks are free and available at city hall in Dillingham or in the blue building in the harbor.

Cooler weather and rain swept the Bristol Bay region over the weekend. This week is expected to be warm and sunny, and a burn ban is in effect in Dillingham.

Contact the Author at Brian@kdlg.org or call (907) 842-2200