Wildfire near Delta Junction moves closer to cabins

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) A wildfire near Delta Junction continued to spread south Tuesday, coming within a mile of two dozen cabins along the Goodpaster River.

State fire officials were hoping southerly winds that kicked up Tuesday afternoon would help push the 40,000-acre blaze north and away from the cabins. Altogether, nearly 50 cabins are in the immediate path of the Sand Creek fire, which was sparked by lightning June 14 about 25 miles northeast of Delta Junction.

The fire had been advancing toward the cabins at a rate of 150- to 300 feet an hour, slowing significantly in higher humidity Tuesday afternoon, said fire information officer Paul Slenkamp. As a precaution, crews have spent several days helping property owners install sprinkler systems and remove limbs from trees.

''Structure protection remains our top priority,'' Slenkamp said. ''We're not out of the woods yet. Conditions are very, very dry.''

About 150 miles to the northwest, the Erickson Creek fire near Livengood was also actively burning. Fire officials estimated the fire at 48,750 acres.

Most of that fire's growth was on the southeast and northeast sides, away from the Dalton Highway. A 16-mile stretch of the highway was closed Sunday when the fire made a major run south, causing dangerous road conditions.

The fire was caused by lightning June 17.

Crews fighting the 24,000-acre Kurulu Creek fire on the Selawik National Wildlife Refuge completed a burnout to protect a cabin site. They were expected to be released from that assignment on Wednesday, fire officials said. Crews also were expected to be released from the 1,500-acre Albert Creek fire near Central.

Nine new fires seven caused by lightning were reported Monday to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

Eight of the 30 wildfires burning in Alaska were being fought and the others were monitored, officials said.

So far this year, 325 fires statewide have burned nearly 135,000 acres, according to the coordination center.

Also on Tuesday, crews conducted a prescribed burn on 165 acres at the Chena Lakes Flood Control project.

Fire officials said the purpose of the burn is to improve wildlife habitat by reducing the density of spruce and promoting the growth of willows, hardwood trees and blueberries.



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