Wet conditions slow most wildfires

Posted: Tuesday, June 04, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Just two new wildfires were reported Sunday and two more Monday as rain in Alaska's Interior slowed burning.

Lighting strikes Monday caused a fire about 200 miles southwest of McGrath and 100 miles north of Bethel in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge said Andy Williams, spokesman for the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center. Smokejumpers were assigned to the fire.

The fire is in an area designated for modified protection, the third of four designations. Fires there are attacked early in the season but not after July 10.

The second fire Monday was in the Tanana District and no suppression had been planned as of Monday afternoon.

Human-caused fires of less and half an acre were extinguished Sunday in Valdez and North Pole.

Wildfire activity elsewhere continued to slow.

The McGrath fire, which had burned to within six miles of the town, was estimated Monday to have consumed 100,000 acres, up from the 88,798 reported Sunday. Division of Forestry spokesman Andy Alexandrou said the increase was due to more accurate mapping.

Firefighters Monday mopped up 250 feet within the fire perimeter to make sure there was no fire or heat near edges that could make the fire spread.

McGrath officials met with state and federal firefighters to discuss options for the east and northeast flanks of the fire. The management team planned to order three additional crews to join the eight working on the fire.

At the Elliott Highway fire, which began near Mile 78, rain that ended Sunday slowed fire activity but prevented firefighters from burning vegetation to secure control lines near the highway and other locations, Williams said. Crews will try again Tuesday.

The fire continued to burn most actively on the south and southeast flanks where firefighters are protecting specific points. No activity was reported along the northeast perimeter where the fire is closest to Livengood.

Williams said three fire crews from the Chena Hot Springs Road fire were to be reassigned to the Livengood fire, which has burned 95,000 acres.

The Chena Hot Springs Road fire burned 22,100 acres but showed little activity Sunday after the weekend rain, state forestry officials said.

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