Interior wildfire still out of control

Posted: Sunday, May 30, 2010

TANACROSS - Forest officials called Friday for more firefighters to battle a 4,000-acre wildfire in eastern Alaska as crews used bulldozers to try to contain the fast-moving flames, which caused the evacuation of more than 100 homes.

Celeste Prescott, spokeswoman for the Alaska Division of Forestry, said more resources are needed in addition to the 165 firefighters already battling the Eagle Trail fire. There's no estimate when it might be contained, and Prescott said unusually hot, dry weather continues.

Bulldozers worked through the night building a line to protect homes, and fire crews forced the fire to burn around the village of Tanacross Thursday night.

The fire was first reported Wednesday at five acres, but with unusually hot and dry conditions it had reached 4,000 acres by late Thursday night.

Earlier, 50 homes were evacuated in Tanacross and about 60 homes in the nearby Eagle Subdivision, about 170 miles southeast of Fairbanks, fire officials said.

Many evacuees were staying with friends and family in Tok, about 12 miles east of the fire, fire information officer Sarah Saarloos said.

Prescott told The Associated Press that there were no reports of injuries or structures burned. Forestry officials have called for all available resources in the state, including air tankers, helicopters and bulldozers.

She said fire teams in the lower 48 states could be tapped for help.

Temperatures in the 80s and low relative humidity made for ideal wildfire conditions Thursday and Prescott said more of the same was expected Friday.

Alaska drivers headed into Canada were being warned to expect delays. Prescott said the Alaska Highway was open, but smoky and being used by emergency vehicles.

According to the Division of Forestry, a private pilot reported the fire Wednesday. Just two hours later it had crossed to the north side of the Alaska Highway, just west of Tanacross. By midday Thursday, it had reached 2,000 acres before doubling in size by late in the evening.



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