Blackhawk with Water Bucket

A Blackhawk helicopter takes off from the Delta Forestry helicopter base in support of the Rainbow 2 fire on Saturday. Contributed photo.

Relatively calm today, the Rainbow 2 fire west of the Delta and Tanana Rivers made a wind-driven run to the north Thursday night bringing it within one-quarter mile of the nearest structures in the Richardson Clearwater Subdivision. Personnel on the ground worked the fire while air crews dropped water buckets on the fire over the weekend. The perimeter was mapped by helicopter Saturday morning and is estimated at 11,919 acres.

Discovered on June 29, the lightning-caused fire 15 miles northwest of town has had a couple of significant runs during wind events and has been addressed as needed by forestry personnel. Thursday’s run pushed the head of the fire three miles to the northeast.

“All the cabins on the Richardson Clearwater River were triaged with structure protection in the form of pumps, hose and sprinklers during the Oregon Lakes Fire in May, which was about 8 miles south of where the Rainbow 2 Fire started. That equipment remains in place and has been checked to make sure it is working. The pumps and sprinklers will be turned on, if needed,” said the Division of Forestry in a press release Sunday.

Forestry says the fire is currently being managed by a Type 3 Incident management team. Two Initial Attack squads of five firefighters each and a helitack squad of five personnel have been assigned to the fire. Two Blackhawk helicopters are assisting with bucket drops of water on the northern flank of the fire closest to the Richardson Clearwater cabins. Two river boats have been contracted for transportation of firefighters, equipment and supplies.

An infrared Unmanned Aerial System (drone) flight has been requested to help locate hot spots on the northern edge of the fire. Flights for mapping and reconnaissance have not been possible during the past few days due to smoke and low visibility.

The fire is burning primarily in black spruce. Mixed hardwoods and an old burn scar in the path of the fire are slowing its progress. Current fire behavior is smoldering with some creeping in the moss, with occasional single-tree torching in black spruce.

Michael Paschall is the editor and publisher of Delta Wind and can be reached at