Three wildfires burn near Venetie

Posted: Tuesday, July 23, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Firefighters worked to control two lightning-caused fires near Venetie on Monday and monitored another blaze near the village.

One of the fires burned within a mile and a half of the village of 230 residents.

Village Chief Bobby Tritt said residents were still keeping watch on the smoke surrounding their community.

''We keep an eye on it from the water tower just in case it's coming this way,'' said Tritt, adding that winds Monday were blowing the smoke away from the village.

Two of the fires were southwest of the village and the third was northwest. Crews were fighting the 10-acre blaze that came closest to the village. Water was dumped on the second fire from an air tanker and the third was being monitored.

Fire officials continued to warn motorists away from a ten-mile stretch of the Elliott Highway, north of Fairbanks. A wildfire has burned within a mile of the highway and fire officials said heavy smoke has reduced visibility on the road and made driving there dangerous.

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