Wind, spruce fuel Goodpaster fire

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2003

DELTA JUNCTION (AP) Huge, old black spruce on hills provided ready fuel Tuesday for a wildfire in the Goodpaster Valley, about 30 miles northeast of Delta Junction.

The Sand Creek Fire had blackened 10,000 acres by Tuesday morning and was threatening a handful of recreation cabins.

''That fire made quite a run,'' said Pete Buist, spokesman for the Division of Forestry.

Buist told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that wind and hilly terrain contributed to the fire's rapid growth.

''Any time fire moves uphill it really goes,'' he said.

Al Edgren, Delta area forester, said four crews on site were protecting four cabins in the danger area. By about 4 p.m. Monday, the fire had spread just north of Sand Creek, above the fork of the Goodpaster, and was moving east without benefit of wind.

If the wind picks up, ''It's going to change a whole lot of things,'' Edgren said.

The fire began with a lightning strike Saturday. Four burning acres grew to 130 by early Sunday morning. Firefighters returning by helicopter late Sunday night said their efforts to contain the fire proved futile with no close water source.

By about 11 p.m. Sunday, it had spread to 2,300 acres, forcing the initial attack crew to draw back and officials to switch to cabin-protection mode.

About two dozen firefighters were sent to battle a new fire about two miles north of Central Tuesday, said Andy Williams of the fire information center. Lightning is suspected to have caused that blaze, and crews were sent to protect structures in that area.

Hot shot and emergency crews contained the Ptarmigan fire northeast of Fairbanks Monday night. That fire began Saturday and burned 425 acres.

Crews were also mopping up after the Tok River fire, the 10-acre Sucker River fire near Fort Yukon and the 500-acre Small Arms Range fire on Fort Wainwright.

Officials said a total of 11 fires are active throughout the state. Six are being fought and the others are being watched. So far this year 280 fires have burned 25,500 acres.

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