Cooling weather helps crews gain on Interior Alaska wildfires

FAIRBANKS — Wildfire crews in Alaska are getting a break, thanks to cloudy, cool weather.

The favorable weather helped crews clamp down on two interior wildfires over the weekend.

Both the Hastings fire in the Chatanika area and the East Volkmar fire outside Delta Junction have stopped their quick growth, which is letting firefighters focus on the most vulnerable areas.

“This has been a productive weekend for the crews on the fire,” Hastings fire spokesman Jim Schwarber said. “We’re able to make progress on our containment effort and not have it run away from us.”

The Hastings fire is estimated at about 36 square miles and 18 percent contained. The East Volkmar Fire is estimated at more than 90 square miles.

Schwarber said firefighters should continue to make progress, as long as the weather doesn’t include much wind.

Nearly 1,000 firefighters are working on the Hastings fire, although Schwarber said crew numbers will begin dropping soon.

East Volkmar fire spokesman Ted Pettis said the blaze is “far from going out.” But cool, damp weather has allowed crews to focus on mopping up hot spots, he said.

The fire is contained along its west flank. The 394 crew members assigned to the blaze are working to control the south flank in the Healy Lake vicinity.

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