UPDATE 6 P.M.
Firefighters battling the 500-acre Haystack Fire north of Fairbanks are currently attacking a 1-acre spot fire on the south end of the fire closest to the Haystack Subdivision. The spot fire is burning in black spruce about 1 mile north of the subdivision.
The spot fire started at about 4:30 p.m. when the main fire crossed Caribou Creek after a thunder cell moved over the fire, creating gusty, erratic winds that increased fire behavior. Firefighters are scrambling to build a control line around the spot fire using a bulldozer and retardant drops from an air tanker. Water-scooping aircraft and helicopters have also been dropping water on the fire to help bring it under control.
No evacuation orders have been issued at this time.
ORIGINAL POST 2:30 P.M.
The Haystack Fire burning 20 miles north of Fairbanks is currently estimated at 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. Homes are not considered threatened at this time. No evacuation orders or notices have been issued.
There were 46 personnel working on the fire as of Wednesday morning and crews and other resources have been ordered to ramp up the suppression effort.
At 2 p.m., fire managers reported the fire was exhibiting “moderate” fire behavior and was still progressing north at a moderate rate of speed. A structure protection group has been created to assess homes in the subdivision and begin work prepping them in the event fire activity increases on the southern edge of the fire.
The White Mountain Crew is working on the west flank and the Tanana Chiefs Crew is working along the heel of the fire and the right flank to improve lines put in by the dozers. Two dozers were also constructing line around the heel of the fire. Retardant lines laid down by air tanker drops at the heel of the fire and along both flanks were still holding. Helicopters are being used to drop water on active parts of the fire to assist suppression forces on the ground.
Crews are working to secure the south, east and west flanks of the fire with the primary focus on the southern edge closest to the subdivision. Three bulldozers worked through the night constructing containment lines at the heel of the fire and on both the east and west flanks. The dozers are peeling vegetation up to remove burnable fuel to create a containment line.
The Alaska Division of Forestry has ordered a the Alaska Type 2 Black Incident Management Team commanded by Ed Sanford to take over management of the fire. The IMT will be inbriefed on Thursday morning and an incident command post will be set up at Pearl Creek Elementary School in Fairbanks to accommodate the team.
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 lightning-caused fires, which was reported late Monday afternoon and was held in check at about 5 acres, surged on Tuesday afternoon after crossing a control line. Pushed by southwest winds, the fire marched north and west, burning through thick black spruce and exhibiting extreme fire behavior with 200-foot flame lengths reported at the head of the fire.
Fire managers 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 halt the fire’s advance, however. The fire crossed a fire break on a ridge top and was continuing to slowly advance north and west as of Wednesday morning.