Responders secure village of Levelock, even as fire spreads south

Aug 27, 2019

The Levelock Fire has spread south into the tundra. But responders are securing control lines around the village and airport. Residents should expect smoky conditions until they receive substantial rainfall.

Fire outside Levelock, Aug. 21, 2019.
Credit Isabelle Ross/KDLG

The Levelock Fire has spread to 6,863 acres. That growth is on the southern portion of the area in the outlying tundra, and is not currently threatening the village or airport. 

“They have a good containment line protecting the village of Levelock and the airstrip. They’re working to continue improving that containment line by making it wider during their mop-up efforts," said Sam Harrel, a public information officer for the Division of Forestry.

As of Tuesday morning, crews had secured control lines north of the airport. To create those lines, they start by cutting down trees, then conduct controlled burns of vegetation between that line and the main fire. Responders have widened containment lines around the village to 100 feet so far. Their goal width is 300 feet.  

Harrel said that because of the dry conditions around the region, Levelock residents should expect smoke and haze until there is substantial rainfall. And despite showers over the weekend, people should remain cautious. 

“Storms move through, showers may move through, but they’re really not producing much precipitation," he explained. "And they bring those crazy erratic winds with them too, which kind of moves the fire around and fans the coals, which allows them to get into flames and become more activity then, when the sun comes back out.”

About 60 emergency firefighters, eight smokejumpers, and local volunteers are continuing controlled burn operations around the village.

Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org 907-842-2200.