Cooler weather aids firefighters

Posted: Tuesday, July 03, 2001

ANCHORAGE Cooler temperatures are helping firefighters contain two wildfires on the Kenai Peninsula.

The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center said this morning that the Mystery Hills fire near Cooper Landing was 40 percent contained.

Crews began directly attacking flames on Monday. A helicopter shuttled crews throughout the day to a landing site prepared by smokejumpers on the south side of the fire.

Six crews were shuttled in Monday and six more were expected today, depending on safety considerations.

More than 380 firefighters are assigned to the blaze, which is estimated to cover 1,000 acres. That's a reduction of 400 acres from previous estimates. Lightning started the fire two miles north of the Sterling Highway.

In all, about 935 firefighters remain on fires in Alaska.

A fire near Kenai Lake is considered 80 percent contained and could be fully contained by tonight, said a spokesman for the Chugach National Forest. Crews on Monday constructed control lines on the fire's west flank while other crews and helicopters held lines on the east flank. About 330 firefighters are assigned to the fire, which started as a prescribed burn in mid-June.

The size of the fire remains unchanged at 3,143 acres.

Predicted light rain is expected to assist firefighters at both Kenai Peninsula fires.

Near Tok, about 140 firefighters continue to search for hot spots on a fire that scorched 150 acres. The fire began Friday about 1.5 miles northeast of Tok and burned through black spruce into a residential area. Two homes and six outbuildings burned. The cause is under investigation.

Two fires on the Tanana Flats near Nenana were getting less and less attention. One blaze on Fort Wainwright land 15 miles southwest of Fairbanks showed an increase to about 111,000 acres, up 5,000 from Monday. The fire is in an area where fires generally are allowed to burn. Two crews were working on a spot where that fire crossed the Wood River near private property, and the rest of the fire continues to be monitored.

The Fish Creek fire 15 miles south of Nenana, which covered 83,000 acres, continues burning in black spruce east of the Totatlanika River but is contained west of the river. About 75 firefighters remain in the area to search for and put out hot spots.

Six new fires were reported in Alaska on Monday. Firefighters are monitoring a 25-acre lightning-caused fire near the Titna River about 50 miles northwest of Lake Minchumina.

The other fires were caused by people. A two-acre fire was spotted smoldering on a small island in Naknek Lake, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center. The others were less than half an acre and were put out by local firefighters.

Fire officials estimate wildfires have burned more than 210,000 acres in Alaska so far this year.



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