Alaska News

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Two coal-seam fires merge to form rapidly-growing wildfire near Healy

State Forestry firefighters are working to contain a fast-growing wildfire near Healy that was ignited by two smoldering fires burning in coal deposits at the surface that merged together. Forestry spokesman Tim Mowry says the fire was spotted yesterday, when it has burned only about five acres. “Then last night, winds picked up down in that neck o’ the woods, and the fire got very active and grew to 600 to 1,000 acres at around 9, 10 o’clock at night,” Mowry said. Mowry says the Louise Creek Coal Seam 2018 fire is now estimated at 1,800 acres. He says it’s burning in an area east of the Nenana River that had already burned over several years ago. At that time, crews brought in bulldozers that cut a fireline – or in this case a dozer line – around the area. But he says vegetation has regrown in the area, providing fuel for the wildfire.
Alaska Public Radio Network

Kenai Peninsula sees few wildfires as season passes halfway mark

With Alaska’s wildfire season half over and cool, wet conditions in the forecast, the Kenai Peninsula has yet to see a major blaze. There’s no guarantee that it’s out of the woods just yet, though. “The fact that we’re getting close to what would be the peak and we have another week of wet cool weather forecast I think it would be fairly hard, but not impossible, to see significant fires,” Julia Ruthford, fire weather forecaster with the National Weather Service in Anchorage, said. So far this year, the peninsula has avoided major fire outbreaks. The Alaska Department of Forestry had responded to 21 fires covering about 23 acres in the Kenai area as of Wednesday morning, according to the daily Alaska Interagency Coordination Center Situation Report. By comparison in 2015, during the second-busiest Alaska wildfire season on record, 14,086 acres of state forestry land had burned in the Kenai area by the end of the season. In 2017, when about half the average number of acres burned across Alaska, 21 fires burned 1,112 acres of state-protected lands on the peninsula.
Kenai Peninsula Clarion

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Woman, child dead in Matanuska River fall

A woman and a young child were found dead Tuesday night after falling into the Matanuska River near Palmer, according to responders. An initial Alaska State Troopers dispatch on the search received a report just after 9 p.m. that the victims had fallen into the river near Matanuska River Park, off the Old Glenn Highway. “Both have been tentatively identified but their identities will not be released until next of kin is completely appraised of the situation,” troopers wrote. Ken Barkley, the Mat-Su Borough’s deputy director of emergency services, said two fatalities were reported in the search by late Tuesday evening. Their fall into the river, which he said was accidental, occurred along an old bridge on the highway. “The old bridge is more of a bike path and it was right there,” Barkley said. Borough dive team members, as well as Butte and Palmer fire crews, responded along with troopers to assist in the search.

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