Lodge survives wind-fueled fire

Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2002

ANCHORAGE - The Angel Creek Lodge was still standing this morning, despite strong winds that pushed an uncontained wildfire within 500 yards of the structure on Chena Hot Springs Road east of Fairbanks.

"It was grim," Pete Buist with the Alaska Division of Forestry said of the 20- to 30-mph winds. "There were sustained winds all night long. We barely held the fire, but we held it."

Strong winds that hit Sunday night finally subsided Monday morning, but gradually kicked back up again, sending flames spot-jumping across Angel Creek. By late afternoon, winds were estimated at 20 mph as more than 230 firefighters battled the inferno, which had burned more than 10,000 acres by Monday evening.

Late in the day, the Chena Hot Springs Road was closed at Mile 46.5 because of the intensity of the smoke, Buist said.

Fire officials said four cabins were destroyed in the fire, which started Thursday night.

Buist said officials were investigating reports that a burn pile triggered the fire, but he emphasized that the cause remained unknown.

A cold front ushered in the strong winds, which whipped up the fire and carried smoke and ash to North Pole, Two Rivers and Salcha. Buist said he was getting a barrage of calls from concerned residents from those and other communities.

"Some of those calls were more than 50 miles away," he said. "But when people see smoke and ash, they get nervous."

Buist this morning said more winds were expected later today.

Meanwhile, firefighters continued to battle other fires around Alaska, including a quickly moving blaze that started Thursday near Livengood.

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