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Alaska highway reopens with guide cars after wildfire delays

September 2, 2019

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska highway has reopened after being affected by delays and closures due to a large wildfire on the Kenai Peninsula, officials said.

Both lanes of the Sterling Highway were open Sunday, although vehicles operated by emergency officials escorted drivers in both directions, The Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday.

The guide cars were being used due to a continued risk of charred trees toppling in gusty winds, said Alaska Department of Transportation and Kenai Peninsula Borough officials.

The wildfire began in June and has been focused about 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of Anchorage between the communities of Cooper Landing and Sterling.

Light rain dampened fire activity and the blaze was 29% contained Sunday, said Brian Scott, a spokesman for one of the fire management teams.

Transportation officials advised that drivers should still be prepared for a reduced rate of travel.

“The message is: The highway is open. Expect delays,” said Shannon McCarthy, a transportation department spokeswoman.

Motorists have reported waits of between 15 minutes and an hour depending on their place in line, said Kris Ericksen, a Kenai Peninsula Borough public information officer.

“It is still possible if the wind kicks up and something happens we could have longer delays,” Ericksen said.

Motorists hesitating to drive to the Kenai Peninsula after hearing of long waits or seeing videos of roadside forest fires were unlikely to encounter anything so dramatic going forward, Ericksen said.

“There shouldn’t be anything scary happening on the road,” Ericksen said.

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Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com

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