Wildfire crews brace for increased activity

Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) Crews battling a large wildfire near Delta Junction were bracing themselves Saturday for possible increased fire behavior, with dry and warmer weather predicted for the weekend.

The Sand Creek fire had grown to 25,000 acres, spreading toward cabins along the Goodpaster River, state fire officials said. Structures to the north near Central Creek also were vulnerable.

On Friday, firefighters helped area cabin owners protect their properties, setting up sprinkler systems, clearing brush and preparing for a possible burnout.

About 150 miles northwest, a fire that crossed the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and the Dalton Highway continued to move mostly to the west Friday, growing to an estimated 4,000 acres, fire officials said.

That blaze, called the Erickson Creek fire, had lessened to scattered smoke and occasional torching. It was being monitored by air but not actively fought.

The fire, north of Livengood, shot 100-foot flames across the pipeline Thursday night, but fire and pipeline officials said there was no danger to the line.

Elsewhere, crews continued to put out hot spots at the 1,500-acre Albert Creek fire near Central. Firefighters also were restoring dozer lines around the blaze, which was fully contained Thursday night.

Fire officials said temporary flight restrictions over the Sand Creek and Albert Creek fires were in place. They urged pilots to stay out of those areas.

Meanwhile, crews were released from the 5,600-acre Tok River fire, as well as the 400-acre fire Ptarmigan Fire northeast of Fairbanks. Officials said those fire will continued to be monitored.

Four new fires were reported Friday to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center. Also, smoke was spotted about 40 miles north of Central but an aerial check did not find a fire. Officials said crews would make another check on Saturday.

Three of the 18 wildfires burning in Alaska were being fought and the others were monitored, officials said.

So far this year, 306 fires statewide have burned 53,000 acres, officials said.

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