UPDATE 10 p.m.
The Haystack Fire north of Fairbanks is currently estimated 500 acres and crews are working diligently to secure the southern edge of the fire to protect residences in the Haystack Subdivision, which is located approximately 2 miles south of the heel of the fire.
The fire continues to slowly advance to the north and west, away from the subdivision, and homes are not considered threatened at this time.
Crews are also working to secure the east and west flanks of the fire. Bulldozers are being used to construct containment lines at the heel of the fire and on both flanks. The dozers are peeling vegetation up to remove burnable fuel to create a containment line. As of 7 p.m., crews had made it about three-quarters of a mile up the west flank and one-quarter of a mile up the east flank.
Retardant lines laid down by air tanker drops at the heel of the fire and along both flanks are holding, giving firefighters a chance to construct control lines. Water drops from aircraft have also proved effective in moderating fire behavior. The goal is to build a containment line around the entire perimeter of the fire by the end of shift tomorrow.
A new Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) has been put in place over the fire to ensure a safe working environment for firefighting aircraft. For information about the TFR, go to https://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_1_3841.html.
The latest estimate on the fire was approximately 400 acres as of 3 p.m. but the fire has likely grown bigger. The Alaska Division of Forestry has ordered a Type 2 Incident Management Team from Alaska to take over the fire.
The lightning-caused fire, which was reported late Monday afternoon about 2 miles north of Haystack Subdivision and appeared to be held in check early Tuesday morning, spotted across control lines at approximately 11:30 a.m. and quickly mushroomed in size, exhibiting what fire managers described as extreme fire behavior with 200-foot flame lengths at the head. The fire is burning predominantly in black spruce with some mixed hardwoods.
Pushed by winds out of the southwest, the fire is advancing north and west, away from the Haystack Subdivision. No homes are threatened at this time and no evacuation orders have been issued. Firefighters and heavy equipment are working to establish containment lines on the south edge of the fire closest to the subdivision.
Fire managers with the Alaska Division of Forestry responded quickly with an aggressive air attack that included water and retardant drops from multiple aircraft, including water-scooping planes, two air tankers and multiple helicopters. The air attack wasn’t enough to slow the fire’s advance, however, and fire managers elected to order a Type 2 incident management team to assume command of the fire. It has not been determined when the IMT will assume command.
More than 50 personnel are currently working on the fire and several more crews and resources have been ordered to respond.