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Alaskan Homes Evacuated in Fire

June 5, 1999

HOMER, Alaska (AP) _ More than 50 people were evacuated from their homes Friday as an out-of-control wildfire threatened to consume the structures.

The fire was burning among beetle-killed spruce trees east of Homer and destroyed one mobile home by Friday evening, according to Homer fire officials.

No injuries were reported, said Elaine Grabowski, the fire department’s service coordinator.

Homer High School was opened as a shelter for people evacuated from the homes, officials said.

``Flames are shooting up _ we can see them way over here,″ said Colleen Leavitt, a clerk at a resort located about 10 miles from the fire.

Helicopters were dispatched from Soldotna and Anchorage, along with a plane from Palmer to drop fire retardant, said Bob Painter, Homer’s assistant fire chief,

The wildfire started when a resident burning a brush pile lost control of his fire in high winds, Painter said.

The Homer area has been ravaged in recent years by the spruce-bark beetle. Large swathes of land are covered with dead, dry spruce trees that are an ideal fuel source for a wildland fire.

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