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Alaska wildfire threatens nearby community businesses

August 24, 2019

SOLDOTNA, Alaska (AP) — A wildfire in south-central Alaska has threatened multiple businesses in a nearby community, officials said.

Wildfire smoke and sporadic highway closures have caused visitors to cancel trips, and fishing guides and other businesses in Cooper Landing are starting to suffer, KSRM-AM reported Friday.

The fire has burned about 222 square miles (575 square kilometers) south of Anchorage in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, authorities said. The flames were invigorated since a lightning strike ignited the fire in June.

Residents between Sterling and Cooper Landing have been constrained to a closed down or single-lane road because of the fires, authorities said.

“I think we are going on 80 days, I recognize that it has not had good substantial impacts on Kenai Peninsula residents,” refuge manager Andy Loranger said.

Gwin’s Lodge Roadhouse Restaurant closed its restaurant doors Thursday, and Wildman’s has continuously cut staff to stay open, the newspaper reported.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce declared a local disaster emergency Wednesday due to multiple wildfires and high fire danger throughout the region, officials said.

“The recreational areas of Cooper Landing have been seriously affected by heavy smoke and the community has suffered many major transportation disruptions,” the declaration stated.

Significant resources have been used to protect public safety, and local authorities are unable to provide effective response to the fires, officials said.

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Information from: KSRM-AM, http://www.radiokenai.com

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