Delta Junction fire burns past Sand Creek

Posted: Monday, June 23, 2003

Anchorage (AP) A fire near Delta Junction burned south Saturday past Sand Creek and toward cabins on the lower Goodpaster River.

Firefighters had hoped to stop the fire at the creek but were unsuccessful because of warm, dry weather. Six crews have been assigned to the lightning-caused fire, which began June 14 about 25 miles northeast of Delta Junction.

By Sunday, it had burned approximately 30,000 acres, spreading toward cabins on the South Fort and Central Creek. Low levels on the Goodpaster River were hampering efforts to move firefighters and equipment.

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 grew substantially on Saturday. The blaze, called the Erickson Creek fire, grew 9,700 acres to reach 13,700 acres, fire officials said.

The fire, which was started Tuesday by lightning north of Livengood, spotted across Hess Creek to the north and burned to the east and southwest, with flames shooting 100 feet into the air.

The fire moved across the pipeline Thursday night, but fire and pipeline officials said there was no danger to the line.

Elsewhere, eight 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.

Officials also urged motorists to keep their headlights on and be careful while driving through the area of the Erickson Creek fire where it crossed the Dalton Highway at milepost 21.5.

Two new fires were reported Saturday to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center. Those small fires in the Fairbanks and Delta areas were contained.

Three of the 22 wildfires burning in Alaska were being fought and the others were monitored, officials said.

So far this year, 312 fires statewide have burned 77,000 acres, officials said.

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