Crews subdue Anderson fire, battle Tok blaze

Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) A 1,500-acre fire near Anderson is expected to be under control by Saturday, but firefighters continue to battle a steadily growing blaze southeast of Tok.

That fire grew from roughly 250 acres Tuesday night to an estimated 1,400 acres by Wednesday afternoon.

Pete Buist, a spokesman with the state Division of Forestry, said the rapid growth of the fire can be attributed to a surplus of fuel.

The fire, about six miles from Tok, is burning within the perimeter of a 1990 fire that left plenty of dead trees.

Northerly winds were blowing the fire away from Tok, but some smaller flames cropped up on the west side of the Tok River, where the town sits, Buist said.

As the fire grew, helicopters towing buckets of water and air tankers with bellies full of retardant were diverted to Tok from the Rex Bridge fire near Anderson.

Fire officials flying over the Tok fire estimated 75 percent of its perimeter was still actively moving south.

Meanwhile, the Rex Bridge fire burning near Clear Air Force Station had grown to 1,500 acres, but was estimated to be contained by 8 p.m. Wednesday and should be under control by the same time Saturday, Buist said.

''The fire behavior is smoldering and creeping,'' he told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

The fire started near the Rex Bridge on the Parks Highway Monday afternoon and had consumed 75 acres by the time the first wildland firefighters arrived not long after it was reported.

The fire was blamed on a smoldering burn pile that spread into the woods, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

So far, the fire has destroyed a home and two other structures while forcing some evacuations.

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