Weather Helping Alaskan Firefighters

July 11, 2004
Higher humidity and some rain over the past few days continue to aid workers battling major wildfires in Alaska's Interior.
JUNEAU (AP) -- Higher humidity and some rain over the past few days continue to aid workers battling major wildfires in Alaska's Interior.

Fire information officer Gil Knight said Saturday that construction of a fire line to contain the Boundary complex of fires north of Fairbanks is progressing well along the southwest flank. The 337,100-acre fire is about 20 percent contained.

The 187,000-acre Wolf Creek complex of fires near Chena Hot Springs is about 10 percent contained, Knight said. There's some smoldering and creeping ground fire but little active burning near the Chena Hot Springs Resort.

``The moisture that we've gotten off and on the last few days and the higher humidities certainly have helped, not to say there isn't some smoke being generated and some hot spots,'' Knight said.

Ten smokejumpers were assigned to a new fire reported Friday by a Stevens Village resident.

The 100-acre Waldron Creek fire, just upstream from the Yukon River crossing, burned one cabin, and efforts were being made to protect other structures, fire officials said. Elderly residents live in one of the structures.

``That fire is acting up now,'' said Pete Buist, a fire information officer at the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center. ``They just sent another load of jumpers.''

There are some Alaska Native allotments just upstream of the fire, Buist said.

Fairbanks residents were plagued Friday by smoke that blew into town on a west wind from a wildfire burning 25 miles northwest of Tanana, but the air was clearer Saturday, Buist said.

The smoke traveled about 125 miles from the North Dag Fire, a lightning-caused fire that's been burning since June 12. It's in a limited suppression area, meaning no one is fighting it.

The 71 fires burning in Alaska have consumed more than 2.1 million acres so far.

Fire officials are urging residents throughout the state to be careful with fire. Of seven new blazes reported Friday, six were caused by humans, Knight said.

``Even though the fire intensity isn't as strong as it was a few days ago, we all know it doesn't take much _ much wind or higher temperatures,'' Knight said.

Although most fires so far have been in the Interior, areas closer to the coast are also vulnerable due to low humidity and warm temperatures, he said.

Knight said fire danger is very high in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

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