Alaska firefighters headed to New Mexico

Posted: Tuesday, May 16, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Six Alaska Fire Service workers are joining the more than 1,000 firefighters in New Mexico battling the Los Alamos blaze.

Two operations specialists, two supply specialists, a comptroller and a coordination manager are being diverted from Fairbanks, said fire service spokesman Andy Williams. An aircraft is also being sent.

But that's all the Alaska Fire Service can spare, Williams said.

''We don't want to have all our folks down in New Mexico and our fire season start up,'' he said. ''With this dry wind and lack of rainfall that we have, we could be in a very dangerous situation not too long from now.''

The Los Alamos fire, which began May 4, was spread across New Mexico by high wind. At least 260 homes have been destroyed and tens of thousands of people had to be evacuated from their homes.

The Tanana Valley chapter of the Red Cross plans to divert one Fairbanks volunteer from Oklahoma to New Mexico and 14 others across the state are poised to go.

''We have people on stand-by that are willing to go, but we haven't been able to get them out yet,'' said Jeannette Hansen, disaster services coordinator at the Tanana Valley Red Cross chapter, which is the lead chapter for the state.

''There's a lot of expense to get them out of Alaska to down there. We're still working on the finances of it,'' she said.

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