FAIRBANKS - Three wildfires were burning in the Fairbanks area Tuesday, the latest in a string that have sprung up as the Interior continues to bake under high temperatures.
The Hastings Fire, burning on the north side of the Chatanika River in an area with recreational cabins, grew to 600 acres Tuesday afternoon. One cabin and an outbuilding were burned, and other cabins along the river were threatened.
Fire crews reached the area by air and were battling the blaze, located about five miles directly north of Murphy Dome.
“Currently we have firefighters on the ground and the structures are being protected,” said Sarah Saarloos, public information officer for the Alaska Type 2 Incident Management Green Team.
The Hastings Fire, the cause of which is unknown, was first reported as a 20-acre blaze in black spruce Monday afternoon. Windy and dry conditions contributed to the fire’s rapid spread.
Firefighters were helped Monday night when the fire ran into a gully full of overflow ice. The east flank of the fire was moving into hardwood trees on Tuesday, also helping to stem its advance.
“The fire has not grown, but from a technical standpoint it is not contained,” Saarloos said. Approximately 100 firefighters were working both flanks of the fire and were hoping to have it contained Tuesday night.
In addition to the Hastings Fire, two fires in the Chena Hot Springs Road area were reported late Tuesday afternoon, according to Pete Buist, public information officer for the Division of Forestry.
One was burning north of Chena Hot Springs Road in the Little Chena River drainage. The other was located between Chena Hot Springs Road and the Chena Flood Control Project.
Firefighters were doing an “initial attack” on both fires, and properties along Chena Hot Springs Road were probably not in danger, Buist said. Properties located in more remote areas farther north of Chena Hot Springs Road could be threatened, however.
Buist said the size and cause of the fires were not yet known.
Southeast of Fairbanks, the East Volkmar Fire has been burning approximately 25 miles outside of Delta Junction since Thursday. It grew to 19,000 acres by Tuesday afternoon. Winds were gusting to 20 mph and the blaze was growing.
“This is a large fire with little to no containment, so we don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Sharon Roesch, public information officer for the East Volkmar incident. “It’s really hot on the north and moving into the east, to a limited protection area. We’re trying to prevent the westerly spread and also the southerly, which would be the Healy Lake area,” Roesch said.
The areas east and north of Delta Junction are less populated than those to the west and south, but some isolated rural cabins are at risk, Roesch said. She emphasized that no matter where they live, homeowners have a responsibility to maintain a defensible space around their homes.
“You want to keep it lean, clean and green,” Roesch said.
Contact Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7590.