Fire near Fairbanks headed towards containment after extensive efforts from fire service personnel

Published: Jun. 21, 2021 at 4:01 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - A fire that has been burning north of Fairbanks is headed towards containment thanks to extensive efforts from fire service personnel.

The fire currently is active in the Haystack subdivision according to Sam Harrel, Information Officer with the Alaska Incident Management Team. Harrel said, ”The fire is north of the Haystack subdivision, about 20 miles north of Fairbanks, up the Elliott Highway, north of the Chatanika River. It’s over on the north side of the Haystack Mountain, burning north of Caribou Creek which is just inside the borough boundary. It was a lightning-start fire and we were hearing reports of smoke in the area as early as the 7th. We would send aerial patrols out and patrols on the roads to look around to see if they could find this fire and nothing [was] found, a couple of days later another smoke report, nothing found.”

The fire was discovered on June 14th and fire services were dispatched. Harrel continued, “Windy day on that day, it kind of pushed it around through some black spruce that’s up here, thick black spruce stands. Wind moved it around the other directions, [and] it spotted over in Caribou Creek. It was a pretty exciting airshow up there with the tankers dropping retardant and the fire bosses with their water drops. Smoke jumpers were also deployed in that initial attack. Well then we had those warm drying days, a lot of sun, we’re in our solstice, a lot of hours of sunshine dries things out quick. Then on the 14th, the fire stood up and smoke was reported, and the local Fairbanks area responded to that.”

According to Harrel, while the fire is not full contained, it is currently stationary as fire service works to contain it. Harrel explained, “So we’re at 927 acres now, and it hasn’t moved pretty much since. Last Thursday or so was really the last growth and change of any of the footprint of the fire. We’ve had weather on our side, it’s been a little overcast, it’s been wet at the right time, the fire has not got as heavy of a deluge of rain as what we’ve experienced in Fairbanks, but it’s definitely moderated fire behavior and it’s given them a chance. We have a containment line, it’s the black line that’s marked around this portion of the fire, and we’re figuring that’s about 31% of the fire’s perimeter that we’re confident is going to hold back a reasonable approach of the interior area if that fire would want to move. We’re confident in this line, that it won’t come over the containment line.”

And with warm weather predicted to come in, experts are optimistic on being able to identify hotspots.

“It’s looking really good right now. We’re feeling confident with the plan that we have in place. You obviously need to be prepared for the worst case scenario so that you don’t get caught off guard. But our weather forecast and our fire behavioral analysts are not really indicating that we’re going to have something like that occur. These next few days that it’s going to warm up, and Thursday is supposed to be a really good warm day, that could reveal some places out here that’s going to help us identify and put firefighters on and put those hot spots out,” said Harrel.

And while this fire currently poses no threat, residents are encouraged to sign up for wildland fire information alerts issued by the borough by texting “FNSB2021Wildfire” to 226787.

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