ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) A wildfire north of Livengood shot high flames across the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and the Dalton Highway, but fire and pipeline officials said Friday the blaze does not pose a danger to the line.
The fire, sparked by lightning Tuesday near Erickson Creek, erupted into 100-foot flames when it ran up against black spruce on an uphill slope Thursday night, according to Alaska Fire Service spokesman Andy Williams. It crossed the highway at mile 24 about 8 p.m. Thursday and burned another mile to the west.
By Friday, the fire had grown to an estimated 1,500 acres.
''It's still burning but it's not as active today, although the day is still pretty early,'' Williams said late Friday afternoon.
The blaze calmed down once it reached the pipeline, which sits on a gravel pad within a 64-foot-wide right of way, said Janie Leask, a spokeswoman for Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., operator of the 800-mile line. In that area, the pipe is buried in some places and elevated in others, according to fire officials.
''There is no danger to the pipeline, which is insulated, but we're taking precautions,'' Leask said. ''We have crews there clearing brush.''
The fire hit the pipeline near Hess Creek, about 70 miles northwest of Fairbanks. Fire officials said wildfires have encroached on the pipeline several times in its 26-year history.
The area hit this week is two miles south of the nearest pipeline valve that would be remotely shut down in case of a disaster. But such a measure was not taken in this case and there were no interruptions in service, Leask said.
The Dalton Highway remained open but fire officials warned that smoke in the area could cause hazardous driving conditions.
Williams said the fire is not being actively fought but it being monitored by plane.
Meanwhile, the 1,500-acre Albert Creek fire near Central was fully contained Thursday night.
About 100 miles to the south, crews helped cabin owners protect their properties from a wildfire creeping downstream along Goodpaster River. That blaze, dubbed the Sand Creek fire, had grown to at least 23,800 acres, said fire information officer Paul Slenkamp.
''We are urging cabin owners to build defensible space around their properties,'' he said. ''That means establishing sprinkler systems, clearing out ground fuels and removing limbs from trees as high as they can go. These (fires) move very fast and they're unpredictable.''
Statewide, three new fires were reported Thursday. Seven of the 21 wildfires burning in Alaska were being fought and the others were monitored, officials said.
So far this year, 302 fires statewide have burned 46,600 acres, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.