Crews working to contain 800-acre fire along Alaska Highway near Tok

A wildfire burning northwest of Tok along the Alaska Highway is now estimated at 800 acres and more than 160 personnel are working to contain the fire.

The North Robertson Fire is burning in a mass of black spruce approximately 2 miles west of the Alaska Highway near milepost 1350, which is about 30 miles northwest of Tok. The fire is about 2 miles north of the Robertson River.

The North Robertson Fire burning about 2 miles west of the Alaska Highway near milepost 1350 is now estimated at 800 acres. Tim Whitesell/Alaska Division of Forestry

The fire was reported late Thursday morning by passing motorists on the Alaska Highway. The Alaska Division of Forestry quickly responded with aircraft to drop retardant and water on the fire while crews were mobilized to the incident.

Despite the aggressive, initial aerial assault, the fire grew quickly throughout the day, fueled by black spruce and warm, dry conditions. The majority of growth on Thursday was to the southwest, toward the river and away from the highway. The Alaska Highway remains open and traffic has not been impacted by the fire or smoke at this point.

There are some recreational cabins and homes in the area of the fire. Six structures are reported to be threatened but no structures have burned. A structure protection group will be working to locate and assess any other structures in the area today.

Management of the fire transitioned to a Type 3 team at 8 a.m. on Friday to provide more structure and organization.

Two loads of smokejumpers from the BLM Alaska Fire Service and six 20-person crews are assigned to the fire, including three hotshot crews and two initial attack crews from the Alaska Division of Forestry and Alaska Fire Service.

Two air tankers worked late into the night Thursday to put a retardant line around the perimeter of the fire while two water-scooping aircraft were used to drop water on the fire throughout the day and late into the evening. A helicopter was also used to make water drops on the fire.

Crews will be working today to fortify the work done by aircraft on Thursday. Both air tankers and water scoopers will be available to support the efforts of firefighters on the ground today.

The fire was reported to the Alaska Division of Forestry at 10:21 a.m. and was estimated at about 5 acres on initial size up. It grew to an estimated 15 acres by noon and at 350 acres at 3:15 p.m. By the end of the operational shift late Thursday night the size estimate had grown to 800 acres.

The fire is believed to be human caused and is under investigation.

About Alaska Division of Forestry

Alaska Division of Forestry website: http://forestry.alaska.gov/ Mission: The Alaska Division of Forestry proudly serves Alaskans through forest management and wildland fire protection. The Wildland Fire and Aviation Program provides safe, cost-effective and efficient fire protection services and related fire and aviation management activities to protect human life and values on State, private and municipal lands. The wildland fire program cooperates with other wildland fire agencies on a statewide, interagency basis.

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