Fires blacken more than 80,000 acres in Interior

Posted: Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Wildfires started by lightning had burned more than 80,000 acres in Alaska's Interior on Monday.

Elsewhere in Alaska, the U.S. Forest Service has issued a fire danger alert for the Tongass National Forest in the southeast part of the state because of unusually warm, dry conditions.

The Solstice complex, burning in black spruce and tundra, was composed of 15 fires. The largest was the 33,000-acre Pingo fire 10 miles north of the village of Venetie, said fire information officer Gary Lehnhausen.

Also part of the 55,000-acre complex is the 18,000-acre Winter Trail fire, he said.

Fire and weather conditions so far have prevented crews from clearing fire line around the Pingo blaze. The Pingo fire is burning on private land owned by the Venetie tribe, which has been concerned about protecting timber, fish and wildlife. But it's been "so hot and so dry and the fuel conditions are so dense, that we haven't been able to put firefighters on the ground," Lehnhausen said.

On Monday afternoon, it was about 90 degrees there and thunder cells were building over the fire, creating downdrafts that made it too dangerous to send crews to the scene, Lehnhausen said.

Lightning from thunderstorms started at least one new fire near Stevens Village on Monday and smokejumpers were dispatched to the site, he said.

Fire managers hoped to begin building fire line on the Pingo blaze today, if weather is favorable. About 200 people have been assigned to the complex of fires.

The American Summit fire, about 15 miles south of Eagle, had blackened about 10,000 acres, said Maggie Rogers, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Fire Service.



CONTACT US

  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-3028
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING