Tok fire stays subdued, for now

Posted: Thursday, June 05, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) Relatively light winds kept the fire near Tok subdued Wednesday and eased fears that the blaze would once again threaten buildings.

The fire had grown to more than 6,000 acres when fire officials predicted that conditions Wednesday could mimic those that occurred on Saturday. That's when a wind shift blew the fire to within 1 1/2 miles of 16 buildings in a subdivision south of Tok, a town of about 1,300 people located 200 miles southeast of Fairbanks.

The fire is only one mile from the Tok Cutoff and about 6 1/2 miles away from the town, said Fire Information Officer Josie Williams.

Winds that were expected Wednesday to be in the 5 to 10 mph range, remained moderate at between 3 to 5 mph, said Division of Forestry spokesman Pete Buist.

''So far so good,'' he said at about 3 p.m.

There were 509 firefighters assigned to the blaze Wednesday, up from 357 the day before. The crews included six hot shot crews and 10 village crews.

Buist said firefighters had put in two lines of fire break between the blaze and the town. The second line was constructed in case the fire jumped the first line along the fire's perimeter.

Recent westerly winds died down Tuesday night. The winds Wednesday were expected to come from the southeast at between 5 and 10 mph, which could have pushed the fire toward the Tok Cutoff.

''What actually happened is we have minimal fire growth,'' Buist said.

Tuesday's cloudy skies over Tok let firefighters gain on the crawling blaze.

Firefighters were being ferried across the Tok River in airboats to join the battle and about six bulldozers were helping strengthen the break around the northwest end of the fire.

Crews are patrolling the subdivision area, checking for spot fires from embers floating from the main fire.

The human-caused fire was spotted by a motorist on the Tok Cutoff on May 27.

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