Fire crews face increasingly dry conditions in the Interior

Posted: Monday, July 19, 2004

ANCHORAGE - The Taylor Complex fires continued to smolder Sunday as crews raced against hot, dry conditions to protect cabins northeast of Tok.

"It's big out there," fire information officer Kris Eriksen said of the three fires in the 428,000-acre complex. "We have very active burning and extreme fire conditions."

The largest blaze in the complex, the 209,000-acre Porcupine fire northeast of Tok, was creeping south toward cabins scattered along the north bank of the Tanana River six to eight miles from Tok. A small finger of fire was within a half mile of the river, where fire managers were setting up a remote camp for crews Saturday.

"Our main objective is to keep the fire from crossing the Tanana," Eriksen said. "We couldn't create dozer lines as wide and as wet as that river. It's our best line of defense."

Other wildfires were burning hotly Sunday elsewhere in the Interior, where most of the 107 current blazes in the state are located. Eight new fires were caused by lightning, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

By the latest estimates, wildfires have burned close to 3.5 million acres this summer.

The 170,000-acre Central Complex fire northeast of Fairbanks continued to torch in places, sending up thick columns of smoke, said fire information spokesman Ted Pettis. Firefighters worked on reinforcing lines to ward off the 44,000-acre Bolgen fire about three miles northwest of homes on the outskirts of Circle and six miles north of Central.

"They're also doing sprinkler work around those communities," Pettis said. "We want to soak those areas as much as possible so if there's any sparking, hopefully it'll land on wet ground."

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