Thanks to cooler, wetter weather and progress made by firefighters in containing a wildfire south of the Denali Borough community of Anderson, evacuation levels in areas around the fire have been reduced.
The “Level 1: Ready” evacuation alert for the town of Anderson has been lifted while the “Level 2: Set” evacuation alert for the Kobe Ag and Anderson subdivisions has been reduced to a “Level 1: Ready.” A “Level 1: Ready” notice means that people should be aware there is a threat in the area and to begin assembling needed items for a potential evacuation.
Firefighters on Friday began the process of building and plumbing containment lines around the 1,200-acre perimeter of the fire, which started Thursday evening, grew rapidly and forced the evacuation of two remote subdivisions west of the Parks Highway near Mile 275, about 85 miles south of Fairbanks.
Bulldozers are being used to carve out a containment line around the fire and firefighters are following behind setting up pumps and hose along that line to provide a water supply to mop up any hotspots that are found on either side of the line. There are four crews and a total of approximately 120 personnel working on the fire.
The fire showed no sign of growth on Friday after receiving rain overnight Thursday and much of Friday, exhibiting only minimal fire behavior over most of the fire area in the form of creeping and smoldering.
Two engines and a handful of firefighters from the Anderson Volunteer Fire Department and Fairbanks Area Forestry were mustered at about 1 a.m. to respond to a spot fire near the northeast head of the fire when a homeowner reported active fire moving toward their home. Heat that had been smoldering in a nearby berm pile was fanned to life by winds and spread into nearby trees, causing a small spot fire about 10 feet by 25 feet, according to incident commander Teo Fusco with Fairbanks Area Forestry.
The homeowner used a bulldozer to build a containment line around the fire and firefighters responded to quickly suppress the spot fire, Fusco said. Heavy equipment will be used to address smoldering berm piles in areas around homes to prevent further flare ups, he said.
In addition to building a dozer line and laying hose around the northern head of the fire and the east and west flanks, crews are working to cut saw line and lay hose around the heel of the fire on the southern perimeter. Winds in the area are posing a challenge for firefighters due to the smoldering berm piles that are resistant to control.
The Kobe 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.
Several local fire departments assisted on the initial response to the fire and personnel and equipment from the Anderson Volunteer Fire Department continues to provide support for the incident. The Division of Forestry is working with Denali Borough Emergency Services to coordinate evacuation and fire information.
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.