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Wildfires spread across Alaska; crews battle Bear Creek blaze

Alaska Dispatch

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that on Sunday, 17 new fires were reported in Alaska, 13 due to lightning strikes. The most pressing for firefighters is a 9,000-acre blaze at Bear Creek between Nenana and Healy.

The Bear Creek Fire began as three separate blazes that combined into one, public information officer Jim Schwarber with the Division of Forestry told the News-Miner on Sunday. The fire is burning west of the Parks Highway near Mile 269, with winds pushing the fire north. A small subdivision nearby was advised to evacuate.

The Bear Creek fire was nearly contained Sunday before winds intervened. “[Sunday] morning we were almost able to button it up, but the winds blew up and grabbed the fire. It made a three-mile run in less than an hour,” Schwarber told the News-Miner. “It blew past the (contingency) lines and kept going.”

As of Monday morning, Bear Creek had burned some 20,000 acres. Strong winds, high temperatures and low humidity led to extreme conditions on Sunday, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

Another large fire is being battled north of Fairbanks, near the village of Allakaket. Nan Floyd, the public information officer for Allakaket fire, told Alaska Dispatch on Monday that the fire was 43 percent contained as of Sunday evening with crews continuing to work trouble spots. More than 2,700 acres have burned, but cooler conditions are currently aiding fire-fighting efforts.

As of Monday, 257 fires have burned 117,451 acres statewide, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

Read more here.