Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Power out in valley for more than 2 hours

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JUNEAU - A power failure near the Juneau International Airport on Monday left about 800 customers without power for more than two hours.

The power failed at about 6:45 a.m. and was restored just after 9 a.m., said Gayle Wood, director of consumer affairs for Alaska Electric Light & Power Co.

Several utility crews were sent to check lines for the source of the problem, which was initially hidden by trees, Wood said. A cross arm on the utility pole had broken and a fuse-like "cut out" had failed, likely in response to a dangling wire.

Wood said Monday morning was not particularly windy and was not sure how the cross arm broke. After the crew finished the repair, it trimmed some nearby trees to prevent another outage.

The area without power included some areas near the airport, part of Mendenhall Mall and Kodzoff Acres.

Health officials say powder not anthrax

ANCHORAGE - State health officials say the powder found in a package along with a threatening note was not anthrax or any other biological agent of concern.

The package was delivered Friday to a downtown Anchorage building that also includes offices of the state's attorney general. The building was put into lockdown for initial testing.

Anchorage health officials on Monday said the state public health lab had concluded its testing, and there appears to be no public health threat.

Four killed in plane crash near Katmai

ANCHORAGE - Federal officials say four people were killed in a plane crash in Katmai National Park and Preserve.

The crash site is about 45 miles northeast of King Salmon, said Jim La Belle, director of the National Transportation Safety Board Regional.

La Belle said the H-295 is owned by Branham Adventures of Anchorage. The fixed-wing plane is in the trees near a lake.

The plane appeared to be en route Sunday to the Royal Wolf Lodge, he said. Officials have not released the names of the victims, believed to be the pilot and three passengers.

NTSB investigators are en route to the site.

New stamps feature northern lights

WASHINGTON - The polar lights, among nature's most intriguing phenomena, are coming to the mail.

Two new 41-cent stamps featuring the northern lights - aurora borealis - and southern lights - aurora australis - were unveiled Monday in ceremonies at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum.

While these flowing displays of color are often seen near the poles, it's rare to see them at more distant latitudes.

"But we're about to change all that, soon they will be dancing in the mail," said H. Glen Walker, chief financial officer of the Postal Service.

"Beyond their obvious beauty, these stamps also carry a message. Just as it is our privilege to enjoy the wonders of nature, it is also our duty to preserve and protect these wonders," he added.

The stamps are being issued during the International Polar Year, a period of increased scientific research and exploration in the polar regions.

The auroras produce a luminous, often moving, glow in the sky when electrons from the sun are channeled to the poles by the Earth's magnetic field. There the electrons strike molecules in the atmosphere, creating the lights.

The northern lights stamp is based on a photo by Fred Hirschmann of Wasilla. German photographer Per-Andre Hoffmann took the picture used on the southern lights stamp.

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