Rain helps dampen wildfires

Posted: Sunday, July 08, 2001

ANCHORAGE -- Continued rainfall Saturday helped dampen wildfires burning around the state.

The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center said there were about 390 firefighters and support personnel working on three fires Saturday. That was down from more than 1,000 at the peak of fire activity last weekend.

Firefighters were released from the Mystery Hills Fire, on the Kenai Peninsula west of Cooper Landing. That blaze was started by lightning June 28th and burned 750 acres before it was declared controlled on Thursday.

Crews were continuing to mop up on the Kenai Lake fire. That blaze was started June 25th when a prescribed burn got out of control. More than 3,200 acres were charred by the Kenai Lake fire.

Sixty firefighters were continuing to douse the embers on the 83,000-acre Fish Creek fire southeast of Nenana.

The last of the crews that had been mopping up on the 150-acre Red Fox fire in Tok were released Friday.

Fire officials continued to monitor the Survey Line fire burning on Fort Wainwright. That fire has burned about 114,000 acres.

If the rain continues, it could put an end to the fire season, said Andy Williams, fire information officer for the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center at Fort Wainwright.

"But that doesn't mean another one couldn't come when it stops raining," Williams told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "The ground is dry deep down."

Pete Buist, fire information officer with the state Division of Forestry, concurred.

"It takes a lot more precipitation than we've had to really change the long-term drying that has taken place," Buist said. "All it would take is a couple hot, dry, windy days to get the fine fuel moistures back to where they were before."

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