Three crews are cleaning up a 5-acre wildfire in west Fairbanks today after an aggressive air and ground assault extinguished the flames emerging near homes on Yankovich Road on Friday afternoon.
About 50 firefighters look for hot spots that remain in the fire. The fire is located in the ski area of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, just south of the UAF Large Animal Research Station on Yankovich Road.
The Midnight Sun Hotshots, the North Star Crew, and a First Attack Team from Fairbanks Area Forestry work together to find and destroy any hot spots that are found to completely contain the blaze.
The Fairbanks IA team camped near the blaze to watch it overnight after crews worked late into the evening to contain the blaze. The midnight suns and polar stars returned to the line early this morning.
No lightning was reported in the area, the fire is believed to be man-made and is under investigation.
The Yankovich Road fire was reported by a pilot at 2:30 p.m. Friday and quickly set up a 500-foot column of smoke that prompted several calls to the Northern Forest Dispatch Center in Fairbanks. The fire was burning in black spruce and exhibited a rank 4 fire behavior (on a scale of 1 to 6 with 6 the highest) with a single burnt tree and flame lengths of 10 to 12 feet. There were many houses in the area, one of which was only about 100 meters north of the blaze.
Four water scavengers based at the BLM Alaska Fire Service at Fort Wainwright and three helicopters were launched to drop water on the blaze as ground troops were mobilized to fight the blaze. Working in a well-orchestrated attack, the water shovels and helicopters proved to be very effective in stopping the spread of the blaze as the firefighters marched towards the blaze. Planes scooped up water from the floating pond at Fairbanks International Airport just a few miles away, while helicopters plunged buckets of water from Smith Lake just a mile away, allowing for delays of fast execution.
The aforementioned three teams were mobilized to fight the blaze, as was the White Mountain team, which was pulled out of the Munson Creek fire near Chena Hot Springs about an hour away. Eight BLM AFS smoke bombs were also deployed on the fire for a total of around 80 firefighters on the ground. All three crews arrived at the scene at 4:30 p.m. and immediately began work to install a garden hose around the blaze to provide a source of water for the ground attack.
Engines from the University and Fairbanks fire departments also responded to the blaze to help with structure protection and suppression efforts. Alaska State soldiers closed Yankovich Road to ensure a safe working environment for firefighters. The road was then reopened around 8 p.m.
Firefighters worked on the fire line until about 10:30 p.m. and were able to install a garden hose around the entire fire by late evening.
The White Mountain team returned to the Munson Creek fire at the end of the shift on Friday while the Midnight Suns, North Stars and the Fairbanks IA team returned to the fire on Saturday morning to mop up. Crews are available for an initial attack on any fresh start from the fire zone.
A burn suspension has been in effect in the Fairbanks area for several days due to the high risk of forest fires caused by hot, dry conditions. All brush / debris burning and the use of fire barrels are prohibited during a burn suspension. Small campfires are allowed, but given the dry conditions, people should use extreme caution and ensure that any campfire is completely extinguished before leaving by flooding it with water and drowning it. Stirring it with a stick or shovel until cool to the touch.
Categories: Active Forest Fire, AK Fire Info