Wildfire Threatens Alaska Village

August 3, 2009

Cooler temperatures and higher humidity are helping crews fight a wildfire moving toward a small village in eastern Alaska, but the weather is expected to warm again.

Fire information officer Sarah Saarloos said Sunday the blaze is about four miles from the center of Circle, a community of about 95.

Saarloos said the fire is slightly more than a mile from a home on the outskirts of the community, located about 90 miles west of the Canada border.

No evacuations are in the works and there are no reported injuries, according to fire officials.

Erratic winds and dry conditions fueled the fire Saturday. Crews were bracing for increasing winds forecast for the days ahead.

“Wind is the wheels of the fire,” Saarloos said.

The blaze, called the Bluff Creek Fire, is estimated to be at least 45 square miles.

It is among four wildfires burning close together that officials are calling the Crazy Mountain Complex. At least 490 square miles have burned in the region, making the blaze the second largest in the state.

The largest is the Railbelt Complex fire, made up of three blazes in Alaska’s interior, according to fire information officer Mike McMillan.

The complex is estimated at 685 square miles and an edge of the blaze is several miles from the town of Nenana.

Fire officials said Aug. 2 that 477 fires have burned more than 3,400 square miles — most in remote wilderness — across the state this year. In the same period last year, 335 fires had burned 142 square miles.

The most active fire season in Alaska on record was 2004. More than 700 wildfires burned about 10,300 square miles that year, according to officials.

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