State Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2003

City chooses primrose as its official flower

JUNEAU - The Juneau Assembly on Monday night picked the primrose as its official flower.

Assembly member Jeannie Johnson said there has been a great deal of support for the primrose. The spring flowers thrive in Juneau's moist, mild climate.

The Juneau Garden Club and Master Gardeners led the effort and told Assembly members they had found an indigenous variety of primrose on Mount Roberts, which overlooks the city.

A resolution approved by the Assembly asks the state to name Juneau as Alaska's primrose capital.

Earthquake rocks ocean floor south of Aleutians

PALMER - The sea bed south of the western Aleutian Islands was rocked Tuesday for the second day in a row. A magnitude 5.1 earthquake shook the ocean floor at 2:29 a.m.

The epicenter was 85 miles south of Buldir Island, which is about 115 miles east of Attu at the end of the Aleutian Chain.

The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center said the quake was not large enough to create a tsunami. The center Monday issued a tsunami warning for part of the Aleutians after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit 65 miles southeast of Buldir Island at 4:13 a.m.

The warning was canceled about two hours later.

North Pole man charged with murder

FAIRBANKS - A North Pole man who said he discovered a body Sunday at a Fairbanks transient camp has been charged with second-degree murder.

Bert P. Coates, 26, was arraigned Monday.

The dead man has not been identified. He was found on Fort Wainwright land on the Richardson Highway heading south out of Fairbanks.

Police said the victim was an Alaska Native, 5-feet-6-inches tall, about 140 pounds and 35-45 years old.

Detective Randy Coffey said Coates told police he had been drinking with the man, spent the night in a motel, and then returned to the camp and found the man's body. Police said they checked with the motel and found no record Coates had stayed there.

Coates then told police he had spent the night with the man at the camp and that the man had touched him inappropriately while he slept. He said he knocked the man down and kicked him repeatedly, police said.

Coates told police he went drinking at some bars, returned to camp and found the man dead.

The body has been sent to the state crime lab for identification and autopsy.

Governor proclaims Wild Salmon Week

JUNEAU - By official proclamation, Gov. Frank Murkowski has dedicated June 30 through July 4 to wild Alaska salmon.

The Alaska Wild Salmon Week proclamation notes Alaska's commercial wild salmon fishery is the largest in the world, and that it is managed to be sustainable.

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute has created a poster to mark the occasion, and is providing suggestions on its Web site,, for ways to celebrate the week. Recommendations include hosting an Alaska salmon barbecue, visiting a salmon stream, thanking a commercial fisherman, and learning about the salmon life cycle.

Wildfire spreading

ANCHORAGE - A wildfire near Delta Junction continued to spread south Tuesday, coming within a mile of two dozen cabins along the Goodpaster River.

State fire officials were hoping southerly winds that kicked up Tuesday afternoon would help push the 40,000-acre blaze north and away from the cabins. Altogether, nearly 50 cabins are in the immediate path of the Sand Creek fire, which was sparked by lightning June 14 about 25 miles northeast of Delta Junction.

The fire had been advancing toward the cabins at a rate of 150 to 300 feet an hour, slowing significantly in higher humidity Tuesday afternoon, said fire information officer Paul Slenkamp. As a precaution, crews have spent several days helping property owners install sprinkler systems and remove limbs from trees.

"Structure protection remains our top priority," Slenkamp said. "We're not out of the woods yet. Conditions are very, very dry."

About 150 miles to the northwest, the Erickson Creek fire near Livengood was burning. Fire officials estimated the fire at 48,750 acres.

Most of that fire's growth was on the southeast and northeast sides, away from the Dalton Highway. A 16-mile stretch of the highway was closed Sunday when the fire made a major run south, causing dangerous road conditions.

The fire was caused by lightning June 17.

Crews fighting the 24,000-acre Kurulu Creek fire on the Selawik National Wildlife Refuge completed a burnout to protect a cabin site. They were expected to be released from that assignment on today, fire officials said. Crews also were expected to be released from the 1,500-acre Albert Creek fire near Central.

Nine new fires - seven caused by lightning - were reported Monday to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

Eight of the 30 wildfires burning in Alaska were being fought and the others were monitored, officials said.

So far this year, 325 fires statewide have burned nearly 135,000 acres, according to the coordination center.

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