Alaska wildfire grows in high winds as crews protect homes
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A wildfire that has been burning in Alaska since April grew in high winds, and firefighters were working to protect homes, officials said.
The Oregon Lakes Fire in the Delta Junction area expanded along its western perimeter Saturday night, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Sunday. The blaze spanned 27 square miles (70 square kilometers) as of Sunday, officials said. People are believed to have caused the fire April 30, but it’s still under investigation.
Fire crews are trying to protect cabins and homes on private land in surrounding communities including Whitestone, South Bank and Richardson-Clearwater, officials said.
Firefighters have brushed out fire lines constructed during previous fires that surrounded Whitestone and Richardson-Clearwater and are building additional lines to protect the communities.
The crews also are creating inventories of homes and structures, trying to find homeowners to ensure they can work on private property, and assembling sprinkler kits at each home to reduce burning. The kits include sprinklers, hoses and fixtures to connect to pumps and water supplies, officials said.
Smoke mixed with sand blown up from the Delta River has formed clouds visible from the Delta Junction area 95 miles (153 kilometers) southeast of Fairbanks, the Bureau of Land Management’s Alaska Fire Service said.
Transportation and observation flights were temporarily canceled because of high winds and poor visibility. Temporary flight restrictions were in effect to avoid interfering with efforts to fight the fire from the air and transport crews.
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com