Wildfire managers for the Alaska Division of Forestry on Friday morning were formulating a plan of attack for a wildfire that forced the evacuation of two remote subdivisions about 10 miles south of the community of Anderson Thursday night.
The Kobe Fire was estimated at approximately 1,200 acres on Friday morning, an increase of 700 acres from the last report on Thursday night. It was raining lightly in the fire area on Friday morning. The moisture and cooler temperatures were helping to temper fire activity. Fire behavior was described as creeping and smoldering.
The fire was reported at 6:45 p.m. Thursday approximately 2 ½ miles west of the Parks Highway and Nenana River between Miles 275-276. Driven by a south wind Thursday night, the fire grew rapidly to the northeast and had advanced to within a mile of the river as of Friday morning.
Multiple residences were threatened by the fire Thursday night but as of Friday morning there were no reports of any homes burning and only one outbuilding was confirmed to have been lost. There were no reports of injuries.
The Division of Forestry is currently mobilizing more resources to the fire to supplement personnel and equipment that were sent to the fire Thursday night. The Fairbanks-based DOF White Mountain Type 2 Initial Attack was en route to the fire Friday morning from the Montana Creek and Malaspina fires near Talkeetna and two hotshot crews were pulled off the Shovel Creek Fire northwest of Fairbanks to respond to the Kobe Fire.
Firefighters from the Anderson, McKinley, Nenana and Tri-Valley volunteer fire departments, as well as the Clear Air Force Station fire department, played a key role in initial attack of the fire and assisting with evacuations and structure protection on Thursday night. Personnel and equipment from those departments will continue to provide support for the incident today. The Division of Forestry is working with Denali Borough Emergency Services to coordinate evacuation and fire information.
Nearly all aircraft were grounded Thursday night due to low visibility from dense smoke being produced by multiple wildfires across the Interior, preventing any kind of air support for the fire in the form of water and retardant drops, and limited aerial reconnaissance to gauge the fire’s size, movement and behavior. It is uncertain whether visibility will clear enough today for aircraft to fly.
Fire behavior moderated late Thursday night when a thunderstorm moved through the area and rain was reported over the fire. Firefighters were pulled off the fireline when the thunderstorm moved through the area to asses the situation for safety due to strong winds and low visibility.
Residents in the Kobe Ag and Anderson subdivisions off Kobe Ag Road near Mile 275 of the Parks Highway were issued a “Level 3: Go” evacuation order to leave their homes Thursday night and that order remains in effect. A “Level 2: Set” evacuation alert has been issued for the City of Anderson and the surrounding area, which is about 10 miles northeast of the fire.
An evacuation shelter has been set up at the Tri-Valley School in Healy. A call center has been set up at the Denali Borough and the number is 907-683-1330.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.