FAIRBANKS (AP) For the second day in a row, favorable weather conditions Thursday continued to slow the expansion of a large Interior wildfire.
Alaska Fire Service spokesman Andy Williams said there was little change Thursday over conditions that existed Wednesday, with humidity and rain in some areas keeping fire activity relatively quiet.
Division of Forestry spokesman Pete Buist said clouds that covered much of the Interior on Wednesday made a big difference, slowing solar heating and drying of fire fuel.
''The rate of spread is not nearly as rapid ... when we have cloud cover.''
The Sand Creek Fire near the Goodpaster River northeast of Delta Junction grew to approximately 44,000 acres Thursday, only a few thousand more than since Tuesday.
''We haven't had a lot of active running on the fire this afternoon,'' said information officer Paul Slenkamp. The fire is ''backing'' into unburned areas, he said.
The fire had nearly 200 people working on Tuesday night and more crews arrived Wednesday.
Its slow movement brought the southern edge of the burn to about three-quarters of a mile from the nearest cabins on the south fork of the Goodpaster River. Crews continued to work at cabin sites, clearing out combustibles and installing pumps and sprinklers, Slenkamp said.
Rain began falling Thursday at about 5 a.m. and cooled the fire but did not extinguish it.
The Erickson Creek Fire, which earlier this week closed the Dalton Highway, continued to burn in a limited suppression area Wednesday. The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center said the fire grew 42,000 acres over two days and is now up to 91,000 acres.
The Dalton Highway is open but smoke continued to cause poor visibility.
Alaska has 38 active fires. Eleven of those were being actively fought and the others are being monitored. Nine new fires were reported Wednesday, all caused by lightning.
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