Firefighters keep close watch on Tok wildfire

Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) The Tok River wildfire has been declared under control but state firefighters are keeping a close watch on remaining hot spots due to continued dry weather.

Firefighters continued mop-up work Wednesday at the fire that consumed roughly 5,600 acres before being contained Monday.

National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Richmond said a ''red-flag'' fire danger warning likely would remain in effect until Thursday. The agency predicted 15 to 25 mph winds and humidity below 40 percent.

''We have red flags for pretty much the entire Interior,'' Richmond said.

Burn permits remain suspended in Tok.

Division of Forestry spokesman Pete Buist said Wednesday afternoon the fire remained quiet. Winds were light and the temperature was 73 degrees, he said.

Buist said 350 firefighters remained assigned to the fire but ''a bunch'' would be leaving Thursday.

As many as 500 firefighting personnel were assigned to the Tok fire during its peak. The fire began May 27 and within two days grew from five acres to 1,600. At one point, it threatened a subdivision near Tok and residents were encouraged to evacuate to the school.

Part of the remaining work includes looking for hot spots up to 500 feet from the fire's perimeter and rehabilitating areas affected by bulldozers and digging. As of Monday, 40 percent of the bulldozer lines and roads had been rehabilitated.

Buist said rehab work includes pulling the vegetative mat back over dozer lines so the soil won't erode.

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