Wildfires generate dense smoke in Alaska Interior

  Wildfires generate dense smoke in Alaska Interior

20 July 2009

published by www.ktuu.com

Alaska, USA — Firefighters are conducting burnout operations on a large wildfire near Nenana in hopes of removing fuels and keeping the blaze from moving closer to cabins along the Teklanika River.

Water-scooping aircraft also is being used on the Railbelt Complex fire. To the south smokejumpers are working to protect a cabin on the Teklanika Channel Lake, anticipating the wildfire will burn in that direction.

“The fire really hasn’t gotten any closer to the drill rig and I don’t believe it will reach the Teklanika River because we won’t allow it to,” said Gary Lehnhausen with the Alaska Division of Forestry.

The fire was started by lightning nearly a month ago and has grown to more than 220,000 acres.

More than 400 wildfires have burned more than 1 million acres in Alaska so far this year, making this one of the 15 worst wildfire seasons in more than half a century.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports a fire near the Chitina River grew Sunday to more than 24,000 acres. A fire information officer with the National Park Service, Kathleen Kavalok, said the smoke plume Sunday reached about 7,000 feet and drifted west.

Other fires include blazes near McGrath, Fort Yukon and Circle.

The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center says 68 fires are active across the state and firefighters have staffed 10.

The National Weather Service in Fairbanks has issued an advisory for dense smoke in the central Interior until 6 a.m. Tuesday because of the fires.

Forecasters say visibility will be less than a mile, and people should limit outdoor exertion.

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