Crews contain fire that threatened Fairbanks homes

Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A small wildfire that started in a residential area early Monday evening was quickly brought under control by 28 firefighters.

Residents of two homes off Murphy Dome Road were evacuated as a precaution but neither the residents nor their property were harmed, said Pete Buist, a spokesman for the Division of Forestry.

It's not known how the fire started but the hot, dry weather contributed to the blaze, Buist said. Smokejumpers and fire crews responded to the blaze as well as two fire engines and retardant-bearing aircraft, Buist said.

The five-acre fire was fully contained Monday night and firefighters continued to look for hot spots early Tuesday.

The hot weather caused existing fires to grow and 14 new fires were reported throughout the state Monday.

Lightning sparked a 20-acre fire 10 miles southeast of Fort Yukon, Williams said. Six smokejumpers and tankers of retardant were sent to that fire on Sunday. Although the fire was on the opposite side of the Yukon River from Fort Yukon, smoke would interfere with other aircraft heading into the village, said Andy Williams, spokesman for the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center in Fairbanks.

Fairbanks residents awoke Monday to smoke that drifted in from fire in Livengood that was invigorated by a dry, hot weekend. The fire began to move toward the Elliott Highway, Williams said.

''They pulled people off on Saturday and came back on it today,'' Williams said. The 96,000-acre fire started May 23 and was human-caused.

Elsewhere, firefighters sent tankers of retardant Monday afternoon to the John Hansen Creek Fire south of Wien Lake and west of Nenana. That 4,000-acre fire was started by lightning on June 6.

At the Colorado Creek Mine north of McGrath, temperatures in the 80s and humidity down in the high teens whipped flames to 300 feet. Fire crews set fires to burn brush and trees near cabins to keep the wildfire from taking the private property, Williams said. The 28,000-acre fire was started May 26 by lightning.

The forecast for the Interior will be dry and hot until the middle of the week when a weather system from the northeast arrives, said National Weather Service forecaster Marvin Percha said.

The temperatures have been in the high 70s and lower 80s with humidity ranging up to 30 percent, Percha said.

''Normally we like to see humidity in the 40 to 50 percent (range),'' he said. ''It causes problems below 30 percent.''

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