Alaska wildfire has heavy smoke from 5 acres

Posted: Tuesday, August 17, 2010

FAIRBANKS - An Alaska wildfire that burned into the town of Healy produced a lot of smoke but was quickly contained around five acres with only minor damage reported.

Officials said the natural barrier of the Healy Spur Road helped limit the Sunday blaze that consumed plenty of black spruce trees.

"If this road hadn't been here, we'd have a huge problem on our hands for sure," said Zane Brown, incident commander from the Alaska Department of Forestry.

Healy residents began reporting smoke at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

Denali Borough Mayor Dave Talerico told the Fairbanks News-Miner that when he drove the Healy Spur Road at 12:50 p.m., flames were reaching higher than the 30-foot telephone poles.

"It was rippin' and roarin,"' Talerico said.

Tri-Valley Volunteer Fire Department firefighters responded from across the street from the blaze.

They were joined by firefighters from McKinley Village, Panguingue Creek, the National Park Service and others. Usibelli Coal Mine provided tanker trucks and heavy equipment, as did Princess Tours. Golden Valley Electric Association and local business people also assisted.

It didn't take long for heavy equipment operators to knock down trees and create a firebreak around the blaze.

"They did a good job getting it contained," said Brown.

A small cabin behind Mountain View Store sustained fire damage and there was minimal damage to a storage shed.

A seven-man crew from Fairbanks was due to arrive to make sure all hot spots were extinguished. Brown said he expected the crew would monitor the area for a couple days.

A campfire is suspected of starting the blaze.

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