Forestry crews responded to a wildland fire Monday afternoon in the Sawmill Creek area that is believed to have been started by an illegal burn. The fire, located in a field and wooded area on Rapeseed Way, grew to about one acre in size.
Forestry became aware of the fire around noon on Monday, and requested resources to extinguish the escaped fire at approximately 3 p.m. It’s unclear why there was a delay between the discovery of the fire and the suppression efforts. Currently all burn permits have been suspended because of staffing issues within the Division of Forestry concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Alaska Wildland Fire Information Website published by the Bureau of Land Management, the fire was caused by someone conducting an agricultural burn.
A helicopter was used to drop water on the one-half acre of the fire that was burning in spruce trees while the landowner used a dozer to place a line around the grass section of the fire. The fire was estimated at one and one-half acres in size.
The White Mountain crew was requested from Fairbanks and arrived on scene early evening on Monday and worked until late into the night putting a saw line and hose line around the fire. Containment was estimated at 60 percent.