Erratic winds from afternoon thunderstorms are posing a challenge to firefighters trying to construct a containment line around the Kobe Fire a couple miles west of the Parks Highway near Mile 275.
On Monday, wind-driven embers sparked multiple spot fires outside the containment line on the north side of the fire. Firefighters acted quickly to suppress the spot fires with assistance from helicopter water drops, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry.
The winds produced limited fire growth on the north edge of the fire where crews are continuing to construct dozer and saw line around the fire. Fire managers estimate the fire grew by about 200 acres and it is now estimated at approximately 1,300 acres. The fire remains at zero percent containment.
Firefighters are plumbing the containment line with hose and pumps to provide a water supply to extinguish hot spots found along the fire’s edge. Heavy equipment is being used to dismantle smoldering berm piles in the interior of the fire that were created when fields were cleared for agricultural purposes. The berm piles are extremely resistant to control and must be ripped apart to expose heat inside.
The fire continues to put up occasional columns of smoke when interior pockets of unburned areas are consumed by the fire and that was the case on Monday as smoke was visible from the Parks Highway and the community of Anderson, about 10 miles north of the fire.
The fire transitioned to a Type 3 incident management team on Monday and there are currently 155 people assigned to the fire, including six 20-person crews.
The Kobe Fire started Thursday evening, July 11, and grew rapidly, forcing the evacuation of two remote subdivisions west of the Parks Highway near Mile 275, about 65 miles south of Fairbanks. Rain moved into the area late Thursday night and Friday, calming fire behavior and allowing firefighters to take a stand to halt the spread of the fire. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
A “Level 1: Ready” evacuation notice remains in effect for the Kobe Ag and Anderson subdivisions closest to the fire. 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.