A wildfire threatening multiple cabins on the Salcha River south of Fairbanks is now estimated at 700 acres and firefighters are working furiously to keep the blaze in check, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry.
Firefighters are being challenged by high winds that are pushing the fire north/northeast toward the river and cabins. Two retardant tankers are being used to put in retardant line to keep the fire from reaching the cabins.
In addition to multiple aircraft dropping water and retardant on the fire, more than 50 personnel are on the ground fighting the fire. Eight smokejumpers from the BLM Alaska Fire Service are working to set up protection measures for cabins in the area of the fire while the Chena Interagency Hotshot Crew and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanook Wildland Fire Crew are working to secure the perimeter of the fire to prevent it from spreading.
The fire is located about 15 air miles upriver from the Richardson Highway. It is one-half mile south of the river and 3 miles north of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.
At last report, no structures had been lost and the fire had not crossed a winter trail that parallels the Salcha River on the south side. The fire had crossed McCoy Creek and a half dozen cabins are threatened near the north shoulder of the fire.
A temporary flight restriction has been placed over the fire and pilots should avoid flying in the area. To check on specifics of the TFR, pilots should go to http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html.
Cabin owners who plan to travel upriver to check on their cabins are advised to use caution due to increased boat traffic transporting firefighters and equipment.
The fire was one of more than three dozen new fires sparked by lightning strikes on Thursday across Alaska. More than 25,000 lightning strikes have been recorded across Alaska during the last two days, igniting dozens of new fires from the west coast of Alaska to the Canadian border.