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Catch & Release


Fire Damages Poker Flat Research Range

A surveillance RADAR facility and two Connex storage containers at Poker Flat Research Range were lost to the Boundary Fire on June 30, according to a press released issued by the University of Alaska Fairbanks July 5, which called the damage done “minimal.”

The surveillance RADAR facility was used to detect small aircraft in the range’s flight zone before launching sounding rockets, which are used to study auroras. A replacement value for it and the two storage containers has not yet been determined.

Last week, Poker Flat Research Range staff cleared trees near structures and equipment, with help from university Facilities Services. In addition, the UAF Fire Department sprayed a fire retardant on buildings at the site’s lower range. The efforts were successful and helped minimize damage to the range, which endured three waves of fire on Wednesday and early Thursday morning.

Several fire crews are now based at the range. Due to the facility’s location, it is a pivotal site for controlling the Boundary Fire from spreading through the valley toward Chatanika Lodge, and up Haystack

Trees, charred by the fire, are falling on power lines that surround the range, causing occasional power outages. However, the 26 commercial structures at Poker Flat Research Range remain intact. Range staff continues to be on site to support fire personnel and help protect range assets from further damage.

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