Wildfires In Alaska's Interior Kick Up Again

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Some wildfires in Alaska's Interior have sprung back to life, prompting fire managers to urge residents north of Central to flee their homes.

According to residents, flames jumped the Steese Highway on Monday, trapping about 100 residents and visitors in the mining town.

The fire threw up flames as high as 150 feet, said Andy Alexandrou, a fire information officer at the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center at Fort Wainwright.

The 64,700-acre Bolgen Creek Fire was burning to the northeast and between Central and Circle. The 29,500-acre Crazy Fire is approaching from the northwest, Alexandrou said. The Bolgen Creek was about six miles outside Central.

The Wolf Creek Fire, which burned behind Chena Hot Springs Resort a month ago, is now knocking on Central's door. It's within six miles of Central, but isn't threatening the Arctic Circle Hot Springs resort, Alexandrou said.

Resort manager Jerry Rogers was on his way out the door at about 8 p.m. after telling guests to head for the airport nearby. The airstrip was deemed the safest place because of the wide swatch of land cleared for it.

``It's a mile wide and coming toward the Circle Hot Springs right now,'' Rogers told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. ``We're closing down the hotel, I've locked up the bar.''

The resort reopened July 4 after being closed for almost two years and has been used as a camp for firefighters battling the blazes.

Dawn Foster, who lives next to the airport, was sitting in her living room making plans Monday night and filling up water tanks in case flames lick at her front doorstep.

She said she ventured out into the driveway at 2 a.m. with a pair of binoculars and could see the flames about nine miles away through the smoky haze.

``The fire activity started to increase due to some high winds on Saturday and by Sunday it had become very extreme and today they're calling it unpredictable,'' Foster said. ``There's a plume of smoke on the Steese Highway that rises in the air approximately a mile to two miles in the air.''

The weather isn't forecast to give Central a break until Wednesday. Alexandrou said it's predicted to be partly cloudy and there's a chance of isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon.