ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Fire activity in Alaska dropped over the weekend as cooler weather aided firefighters battling blazes on the Kenai Peninsula, near Tok, and on the Tanana Flats south of Fairbanks.
But some warmer weather on the Kenai Peninsula Sunday afternoon and mechanical problems with water-hauling helicopters hurt efforts to contain a blaze near Kenai Lake that began as a prescribed burn back in mid-June.
Fire officials had expected to have that fire contained by Sunday evening, but now figure it'll be 6 p.m. Monday before it's contained, according to Susan Rutherford, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service.
''The weather got a little warmer and humidities are down somewhat,'' she said Sunday evening. ''Fortunately, winds are still relatively light.
Firefighting helicopters were grounded by mechanical problems, so water tankers were called in to help, she said. That fire has charred more than 3,000 acres, including the area officials had intended to burn to reduce fire loads. It got out of control early last week.
Not far away, more than 160 firefighters were working to contain a fire near Cooper Landing. That fire, which has burned about 1,400 acres, was started by lightning on Thursday. The blaze was only about two miles from the Sterling Highway, but caused no major traffic problems over the weekend. Authorities are fighting it aggressively because it's close to the highway and because the area has large stands of beetle-killed spruce.
Further to the north, firefighters had a blaze near Tok about 90 percent contained, according to Andy Williams of the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center. The 120-acre fire burned two homes, one a seasonal residence, and six outbuildings after starting Friday afternoon.
Firefighters were cutting back efforts on two fires on the Tanana Flats near Nenana, Williams said. The fire on Fort Wainwright has burned more than 106,000 acres in an area where fires are generally allowed to burn, and it'll probably continue until rain puts it out, Williams said.
A bit further south, the Fish Creek Fire got some light rain and most of the crews on those fires were sent down to the Kenai Peninsula. That fire has burned 83,000 acres.
Altogether, fire officials estimate wildfires have swept across more than 200,000 acres in Alaska so far this year, but that's still less than normal at this time of year, according to Williams.
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