Fire North of Fairbanks Draws Big Response

A wildfire north of Fairbanks is drawing a major response.  The 600 acre fire north of the Chatanika River was called in Monday afternoon. The blaze has been hit with water and retardant drops, while crews attack it on the ground.  Fire Information officer Sarah Satloos says the response is aimed at keeping the Hastings Fire away from private property along the river.

The Hastings fire has been fanned by southwest winds, which increased activity but drove the main advance of flames away from populated areas.  The scenario is similar to what happened on the nearby Moose Mountain fire last week.  The cause of both fires is undetermined. While the wind direction has been favorable, Fairbanks area forestry information officer Pete Buist says weather conditions are a concern.

Buist says resources have been beefed up with outside help to meet the challenge.

Buist says additional water scooping planes, retardant air tankers and helicopters, as well as additional fire crews, have been brought into the state.

As of this morning 265 fires had burned over 100,000 acres in Alaska.  16 fires are staffed including one of the largest. The East Volkmar fire, northeast of Delta Junction has burned an estimated 19,000 acres.  The lightning started blaze grew dramatically over the weekend due to high winds and hot dry weather, but Fire Information Officer Sharon Roesch says conditions moderated enough Monday for crews work closer to the front.

Roesch says the fire has primarily been moving away from areas where there are structures.

200 fire fighters are working the East Volkmar Fire, keeping an eye on remote cabins in the potential path of the fire.

Meanwhile, rain has helped efforts to slow another large fire in the interior. The 23,000 acre Coal Creek Fire, north east of Healy, picked up about half inch of precipitation and that allowed more direct suppression work today.

A Fire Weather Watch is effect through tonight along the Alaska Range and for the Tanana and Deltana Flats due to winds expected to gust to 30 miles per hour and low humidity.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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