Mother Nature lent a helping hand to firefighters working to contain the Any Creek Fire (#238) near Old Murphy Dome north of Fairbanks on Sunday but it remains to be seen how generous she will be.
Rain, cooler temperatures and higher relative humidity than forecast helped to keep fire behavior moderated on the estimated 50-acre fire burning about 10 miles north of Fairbanks not far from Old Murphy Dome on Sunday. Firefighters took advantage of the cooperative weather conditions to continue a direct attack on the fire, cutting saw line and laying down hose around the fire to help bolster containment lines and keep it from spreading.
The fire did not grow in size on Sunday and remained at an estimated 50 acres with 10% containment, as of 8 p.m. Sunday. Approximately 130 personnel are working to contain the fire, which was reported at around 2:15 p.m. Saturday following several lightning strikes in the area. The fire is located about 7 miles west of the Elliott Highway.
The fire is burning through predominately black spruce and is located in a drainage about ¾ downhill from from Old Murphy Dome Road. A fuel break and the road stand in the way of the fire and the nearest residences.
A “Level 1:Ready” evacuation notice remains in effect for residents in the O’Connor Creek subdivision, which includes Hattie Creek Road, Resolution Road, Determination Lane and Adit Lane. This means residents in those areas should be ready to evacuate if fire activity increases. Approximately 15-20 residences are in the immediate area.
Old Murphy Dome Road is open to traffic but motorists should avoid the area, if possible, so as not to interfere with firefighting operations. Anyone traveling in the area should use caution and watch for firefighters and firefighting equipment along the road.
A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in place over the fire to provide a safe working environment for firefighting aircraft. Details of the TFR can be found at https://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_0_9305.html.
While Sunday’s weather was more favorable than forecast, warmer, drier conditions are expected, accompanied by afternoon thunderstorms, which could produce gusty, erratic winds and more lightning in the area.
More crews arrived on Sunday to replace 16 smokejumpers that were initially deployed to the fire. The Fairbanks #1 and Fairbanks #2 emergency firefighting crews were mobilized to the fire on Sunday. The incoming crews will help with mop-up operations and allow smokejumpers to return to their home base at the BLM Alaska Fire Service on Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks to be ready for initial attack on new fire starts.
Firefighters are still working to identify and secure multiple, small spot fires that were started by airborne embers falling into unburned vegetation.
Water tenders from local fire departments and water-hauling companies have been delivering water to the fire and filling portable water tanks for firefighters as they try to get a hose line around the perimeter of the fire.
An aggressive aerial and ground assault on Saturday helped corral the fire and keep it from threatening the subdivision. Aircraft, including two air retardant tankers, eight water bombers and two helicopters, were used to attack the fire from the air while firefighters on the ground utilized engines and heavy equipment to build containment lines and keep the fire from spreading.
Rain moved into the area early Saturday evening and moderated fire behavior, as did higher relative humidity and cooler temperatures associated with a passing thunderstorm.