Steese Highway Smokey Bear sign missing

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A life-size Smokey Bear sign, one of Fairbanks' best known firefighters, has been missing in action for a week.

The state Division of Forestry reported the sign missing from its spot on the Steese Highway the morning of June 18. ''I don't have a clue what someone would do with a big Smokey sign,'' said Michael McGowan, a state forestry spokesman in Fairbanks.

The sign had stood at the intersection of the Steese Highway and the Johansen Expressway. It was taken in one piece and pulled up by the posts, according to the report filed with the Fairbanks Police Department.

There are three Smokey Bear signs around Fairbanks: on the Steese, Richardson and Parks highways. McGowan said this is the fourth time a Smokey sign has been taken in the 10 to 15 years they have been up and the second time the Steese Highway one has been stolen.

The Division of Forestry recovered one of the earlier signs from the bedroom of a local teen-ager. The current signs were provided by the Interior Fire Chiefs Association and cost about $1,500 each to have made and installed.

Bear-nappers have employed various techniques in dealing with the 4-by-4-inch posts that anchor the signs. They have unbolted them from the posts or just sawed through them.

McGowan said this is the first time someone has ripped the posts out and taken them too. ''It would be nice if someone could call and tell us where we could find Smokey,'' McGowan said told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

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