FAIRBANKS NORTH STAR BOROUGH

907 Terminal St. Fairbanks AK 99701 (907) 459-1000

Fairbanks North Star Borough Disaster History

 

2013- Winter Storm (DR-4162-AK): A winter storm bearing snow, freezing rain, and wind gusts up to 55 mph left a trail of broken trees and downed power lines in Interior Alaska, plunging thousands in the people in the dark for days.

2013- Stuart Creek  2 Fire:  This fire, located between Chena Hot Springs and Eielson Air Force Base, burned 87,154 acres in 2003, forcing evacuation of over 300 residents and 450 animals. Smoke from the fire created unhealthy air quality and poor driving visibility within many areas of the FNSB. The estimated cost was $21 million.

2012- Dry Creek Fire:   In 2012, the Dry Creek Fire consumed 47,154 acres lasting from June 23 to November 15, and represented almost 20% of the total acreage burned within all of Alaska during the 2012 fire season. The Dry Creek fire was lightning caused (AICC 2012). 

2011- Hastings and Moose Mountain Fires:  The Moose Mountain Fire (FM-2909) started on May 20 and was not extinguished until September 8. Although this fire appears small in acreage compared to others in the Borough, it cost over $5 million to suppress due to its location near the small community of Goldstream and numerous rural residences.

Within the same month of May 2011, the Hastings Fire ignited and ultimately burned over 54,000 acres. On June 6, an evacuation advisory was issued for residents of the Hayes Creek Subdivision. By June 16, the initial risk to over 400 residences was greatly reduced. This was a human caused fire and was declared extinguished at 54,217 acres on September 8. Estimated suppression costs were over $18 million dollars. In addition to this cost, fighting this fire simultaneously with the Moose Mountain Fire was a significant drain on available local resources.

2010- Willow Creek Fire:  In 2010, one of the biggest fires at 13,766 acres was the Willow Creek fire, located only ten miles south of the Fairbanks airport in a grassy swamp area. It started on June 10 and burned into August, causing smoke pollution in the Salcha and North Pole areas (AICC 2010).

2009- Flood (DR-1843-AK):  On April 28, Salcha experienced flooding due to ice jams on the Tanana River. Water dammed up behind the ice jams causing the water to flow over the banks of the river. Sections of roads were impassable, several homes were surrounded with water and the water rose about 3 feet in an hour. The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the area.

2008- Flood (DR-1796-AK): The rapid collection of rainwater run-off in the Tanana Valley Drainage caused record high water levels and severe flooding throughout and beyond the FNSB. Areas impacted by the flood included the communities of Salcha, Rosie Creek, Perkins Landing and lower Chena Pump Road. An estimated 300 homes were damaged.

2002-2003- Ice Jam Flooding:   In the Fall of 2002, an ice jam became locked in place on the Tanana River and caused flooding in and around Salcha throughout the entire winter of 2002-2003. The flood event caused significant monetary damage and inconvenience to the residents of Salcha and other residential areas along the Tanana River.

2002- Magnitude 7.9 Earthquake:  On November 3, 2002 an earthquake occurred along the Denali Fault, the strongest earthquake ever recorded in Interior Alaska. Fairbanks experienced over 3 minutes of continuous shaking but escaped serious damage. 

2002- Flood (DR-1423-AK):  Glacial runoff during the 2002 spring breakup event on the Tanana River caused significant flooding of roads and residences in the Community of Salcha.

1992- Groundwater Flood:   In May, rain falling on the remains of a heavy winter snow pack sent a large surge of water down the Chena River. The flood gates were lowered on the Chena River at the Moose Creek dam resulting in a 17 day impoundment of water within the floodway. The impoundment of water was 23 feet deep, covering more than 7,200 acres across the floodway. The Project worked exactly as it was designed with potential floodwaters being diverted from the Chena River into the Tanana River over a spillway located at the end of the floodway. During the impoundment however, the groundwater west (downstream) of the Project became elevated as predicted. As a result, over 90 homes in the North Pole area were damaged by elevated groundwater levels.

1967- Fairbanks Flood (DR-230):  In August 1967, the historical flood of record occurred in the Fairbanks area. Ninety-five percent of the City was inundated with water for approximately five days and caused more than $170 million in damage. Almost 6,000 homes were damaged and many homes and businesses were completely destroyed. This historical flood of record was the result of near continuous rainfall in the early weeks of August 1967 and result in 8 deaths, millions of dollars in damage and significant evacuations of people to communities outside the Fairbanks area.

1963- Major aircraft accident:  A KC-135 lost an engine on takeoff from Eielson Air Force Base, veered to the left and crashed killing 7 crew members. Debris also struck a guard house and a nearby waiting room, killing two more personnel.

1955- Major aircraft accident:  An F-84 slammed into Eielson family housing, killing 15. Seven of the victims were children.

1948- Flood:  Fairbanks experienced its second largest flood of record, which inundated approximately 30% of the City.

1937- Magnitude 7.3 Earthquake:  This large earthquake occurred on present-day  Eielson AFB, about 25 miles southeast of Fairbanks. It was felt over most of Alaska's Interior (about 300,000 square miles). Aftershocks occurred for several months.  Fairbanks sustained considerable minor damage.  At Salcha Bluff, southeast of Fairbanks, the highway was blocked for several meters by a landslide. Near there, mud boils appeared and cracks as wide as 38 centimeters formed. Water in the nearby slough rose considerably above its normal level and did not subside for several days.

1937 -Flood:  Downtown Fairbanks flooded from 1st to 4th Avenues between Lacey and Cowles Streets.

1932- Fire:  On December 4, 1932, Fairbanks' only school, a wooden structure, burned to the ground, leaving 340 school age children without a place to attend school. Two weeks after the fire, temporary classrooms were established at the Moose Hall, the American Legion Hall, and Eagles Hall. At times, when more space was necessary, school was also held at the Masonic Temple and the Presbyterian Church. This "temporary" arrangement lasted for 15 months, although discussions and proposals for a new school began immediately after the fire.

1930- Flood:  Downtown Fairbanks flooded along 1st Avenue west to Cowles Street.

1918-1919- Influenza Pandemic:  In an effort to stop the spread of the pandemic, Fairbanks established quarantine stations, also guarded by marshals. Citizens were checked periodically for flu and given armbands reading "OK Fairbanks Health Department." An experimental vaccine was imported from Seattle and distributed throughout the area in the hopes that it would prevent the spread of the disease. It did not.  Despite these precautions, influenza spread rapidly throughout the region in the late fall. Despite these precautions, influenza spread rapidly throughout the region in the late fall. Because subsistence living was common throughout the territory, influenza killed Alaskans both directly and indirectly. When a family became ill with influenza, no one was left to feed the fires. Many people simply froze to death in their own homes.

1912- Earthquake:  Magnitude 7.2 occurred near Paxson. This earthquake was reportedly "violent" at Fairbanks.  The earth heaved and rolled at the north base of Mount McKinley and the country was scarred with landslides.

1911- Flood:  An ice jam on the Chena River pushed thick ice and debris against buildings and many building in the Garden Island Subdivision were carried away.

1906- Fire:  In 1906, fire ruined much of the original log town site, and only a few buildings survived. Replacements were frame homes and stores using lumber produced at two local sawmills. For the first time, two-story buildings appeared.

1905- Flood:  City of Fairbanks experienced a significant flood along First Avenue from Lacey to Turner

Street. A bridge upstream from the city, on the Chena River, collapsed. Its wreckage caught on the newly constructed bridge across the Chena River in the downtown area blocking the river's ice flow during break-up. As the river rose, the town flooded and the stream bank eroded 50 feet inward along First

Avenue. The new bridge had to be dynamited to break the ice free.

1904- Magnitude 7.3 Earthquake: The second largest quake ever reported in interior Alaska causing buildings to sway and crack.

NOTES: DR-####-AK indicates a Federal Disaster Declaration.  FM-#### indicates a Federal Fire Management Assistance Declaration