Wildfire southwest of Nenana stable; not contained

Posted: Sunday, May 23, 2010

FAIRBANKS - A weather forecast calling for rain, wind and possibly lightning could either slow or encourage a wildfire burning southwest of Nenana, the Alaska Fire Service said Saturday.

The Toklat Fire had held steady at 23,385 acres as of early Saturday afternoon. The fire hadn't grown since mapping of the perimeter on Friday, said fire service spokesman Doug Stockdale. The fire stopped growing when the wind died down, Stockdale said.

"Everything has moderated," he said.

Winds were expected to blow the fire back on itself Saturday afternoon. Firefighters also were expecting some rain, but lightning and warmer temperatures could come along with the showers.

More than 100 firefighters were putting out hotspots, dropping water and digging lines at the Toklat Fire, Stockdale said. The fire was burning mostly in grasses and black spruce, which burns with great intensity because of its resin, he added.

Firefighters were working to keep the fire away from more than 20 private cabins and two Native allotments along the Kantishna River. No property damage or injuries have been reported, Stockdale said.

The fire was reported May 16 on the east side of the river. Pushed by high winds, the fire grew rapidly on Tuesday, covering seven miles in seven hours. There are no roads into the area; firefighters must arrive by boat or aircraft and so must their supplies, Stockdale said.

Stockdale did not have an estimate on when the Toklat fire could be contained.

Another 75 firefighters have been battling a 400-acre fire five miles southwest of Fort Yukon. They've put hoses around the perimeter of that fire and had made good progress, Stockdale said.

Six more small fires started Friday night but were quickly extinguished or contained, he said.

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