Engine on fire

A few years ago a truck engine spontaneously caught fire.  It was an electrical issue with the truck.  It had popped a breaker and when the breaker was flipped back, the fire started.  That’s what is thought to have happened.  In the photos you can only see smoke, and the Fairbanks Fire Department working to put it out.  We can imagine it was some seriously toxic smoke, as it is anytime a vehicle catches fire.  The Carlile employees including Jack moved the vehicles that were next to it immediately but couldn’t do anything about the fire.

(For those of you lucky souls who don’t have to deal with the cold temperatures, trucks and all vehicles are plugged in before driving to heat up the oil and anti-freeze.)

Click a photo to see it full size, then scroll through.

A raven’s eye tour of Fairbanks

Flying into Fairbanks one day in 2008 the airplane took an unusual route.  Instead of coming in from the southwest it came in from the southeast, flying over Harding Lake and Salcha and circling over Farmers Loop across north of town into the airport.  Maybe this direction of landing is normal, I don’t know, I have never experienced it before, but this day happened to be beautifully clear and I captured some great photos of the Tanana River and various Fairbanks landmarks.

Click on the first one and then scroll to the right for an overhead, raven’s eye, tour of Fairbanks.

Curved directional pipe for crude oil

Crude oil pipe on truckI snapped these on Friday when this truck was fueling up to head north.Crude oil pipe on truck

Jack says they are used for crude oil and that they lay on their sides, not upright like on the truck. You can see the actual metal portion of the pipe that is colored green with anti-corrosion paint.  The black is thinner metal and in between the two is foam insulation.

This load is obviously going to Deadhorse or Prudhoe Bay.  (FYI:  Deadhorse refers to the “town” where companies have their operations, and Prudhoe Bay refers to the actual oil fields and is a much larger area.)

Click on the photos for larger images.

 

Ah, Memories of Autumns Past

We’re already missing summer around here.

Jack on his 4-wheeler in 2009But at least we have our memories.  Such as from a few years ago on a sensationally sunny day in early September when Jack and I took a 4-wheeler ride in the mountains around Chena Hot Springs.  Chena Hot Springs TrailThat year there were striking fall colors and luckily I captured a few images to warm my heart on cold winter days.  Hope you are all keeping warm.

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Of Squirrels & Moose Antlers

We’ve never heard of this before but there’s a squirrel around here who likes to scrape the tines off of moose antlers!

Tips of tines scraped off moose antlersSeveral times over the summer we heard a mysterious scraping sound coming from the area where Jack’s moose antlers are stored in the woods. We knew the resident squirrel was up to something and sure enough, when we inspected the antlers a few days ago, the tips were scraped off the tines!  Jack says he thinks it’s the squirrel sharpening his teeth and you can actually find a couple of references to this on the internet.  (Here is a link to a video of a squirrel sharpening its teeth on some other kind of antlers, in some other part of the country.  Our squirrel looks much different, smaller and more orange-red. It could be that the squirrel is getting some kind of nutrient from them too and in the video it almost looks like the squirrel is eating the bits of antler.)

Jack's moose antlers

Jack hopes to get a chance to replace the antlers this hunting season!

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2004, the worst smokey year in Fairbanks history!

2004 was the worst summer for smoke in Fairbanks EVER, at least as far as we’re concerned!

The smoke hung around for over 3 weeks.  It was rough.  Here are before and after photos from that summer:

Forest fire smoke in Fairbanks, Alaska - July 2004

I shouldn’t have been out taking photos in this stuff!  This is the Chena River and the 2 buildings are the Key Bank building and the Springhill Suites Hotel.

Forest Fire smoke in Fairbanks, Alaska - July 2004

Here is another one showing Springhill Suites, which was at the time very new.

Luckily, the past few days have been pretty clear and now we’ve had a downpour or two, so things are looking up for those of us who want the fires to go away!

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Smoke & Heat in Fairbanks, Alaska

It’s been an interesting summer so far in interior Alaska.  First we had snow and low temperatures until mid-May, and then we had about 3 weeks of 80 and 90 degree weather.  When you live somewhere that is cold and dry for 8 or 9 months of the year any heat you can get is like charging some inner battery.  So let’s just say we have adequately charged our batteries…life was great…until the smoke rolled in!  Right now we have well over a hundred fires burning throughout Alaska, some small and some large, some being fought near towns and some being left alone to burn.

Forest Fires in Alaska - July 1, 2013The University of Alaska has a sensational website showing where fires are burning in Alaska. Here is a screen shot from it taken July 1st.  The website, UAFSMOKE: Wildfire Smoke Prediction for Alaska, is in it’s experimental phase but when finished should be able to tell us when smoke is going to reach a given area around Fairbanks.  This is when Jack and I shut all our windows and turn on the air filters, so we’d love to know ahead of time.  (Sometimes though, like the other day, its 80 degrees out and our house is baking with us trapped inside.)

One of the fires that is plaguing us is Skinny’s Road fire, the yellow dot that is close to the upper right of the word Alaska on the map.  It’s about 20 miles away from us and on the other side of the Parks Highway.  But any of the ones in that general area could be causing the our smoke problems right now.  The crazy thing is, you can go to bed with a heavy smokey haze outside and wake up to a bright clear day because wind patterns are changing so much.  So Jack and I are constantly sniffing the air to decide when to close or open the windows.

The smoke affects certain people more than others and Jack is not greatly affected.  He even went out and chainsawed some logs last weekend with the mosquitoes and haze surrounding him.  A day off is a day off and you have to get something done.  But I have to stay inside because I feel a heaviness in my chest when the smoke gets bad, and if I breathe it in too long my sinuses and allergies act up too.  People with asthma and respiratory problems like COPD are in big trouble if they don’t get into a safer environment.  Just about everyone gets a headache if out in it for too long.

All in all, here at our house Jack and I have had only about 48 hours of dense dangerous smoke, so we are beyond thankful for that, considering how many are burning around us as you can see from the map.  Below is a photo from June 21st, 2010, late in the evening under the midnight sun during Solstice, looking southward down from a turnout on the Parks Highway onto the Tanana Valley where a fire smolders (on the left in the photo) and sends its wispy smoke westward (to the right). Click it for a larger image.

Forest fire in the Tanana Valley

Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July!

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