Yentna fire flares up

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A wildfire near Yentna Station, 50 miles northwest of Anchorage, exploded on Wednesday, growing from about 150 acres to more than 1,000 acres in two hours after a thunderstorm blew into the area, state forestry officials said.

The fire came within a mile of some cabins before winds died down, said Glen Holt of the state Division of Forestry.

Rains Thursday cooled the fire, but crews continued to fight the 1,300-acre fire Friday.

The blaze was started Tuesday by lightning about two miles northeast of Yentna Station near the Yentna River.

More than 60 firefighters were battling the blaze. Crews were laying water hoses around cabins. Three helicopters were also ferrying crews and dumping water on the fire, Holt said.

The fire is one of nearly 50 burning statewide. In addition to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, fires were burning on the Kenai Peninsula, in the Interior near Fairbanks, and in wilderness around Nikolai.

Most were not being actively fought. Weather forecasts called for more dry weather, which could lead fire activity to increase, said Priscilla Hammon with the Alaska Fire Service.

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