Tracker Radome Fire at Thule - June 1980

Contributed by Larry Russell

Here is a bit of historical information that you may be interested in. In June of 1980, the tracker radar radome burned completely, leaving a naked, charred antenna. Investigators determined a loose bolt heated from RF energy pointed in one particular spot for an extended period of time and started the process. I remember seeing a brown spot, similar to a burned egg. It developed into a smoking hole, and enlarged to complete destruction. The radome was honey comb paper & resin and I watched the fire department handle the situation completely wrong. They sprayed water on the dome, which I saw as futile. I suggested cutting out a large section, to contain the amount of destruction since it was honey combed and water was not going to penetrate anything. No one listened and the dome was completely lost. I was finishing my tour and left before it was rebuilt. However I was told it was repaired before the dark season arrived.