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Alaska's Stuart Creek 2 fire 5% contained

Fire sparked by artillery exercise on Fort Wainwright land

July 8, 2013

More than 800 people and many sled dogs were evacuated as a massive wildfire threatened home in communities northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska, state and federal fire management officials said on Monday.

The Stuart Creek 2 wildfire in Alaska started June 19 and is burning east of Eielson Air Force base.

Richard Hadley is a public information officer with an incident management team from California assigned to the fire. He says officials are waiting on infrared data gather during overnight to map the fire.

“As of (Sunday) night, the fire had grown from 40,000 to 64,570 acres,” Hadley said. “That number may go up as we get this better map data in.”

Authorities began evacuating residents and businesses between Chena Hot Springs Road mileposts 18 and 34 about 1 p.m. Sunday, said Michelle Weston, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

The flames, which were spreading to the north and northwest, threatened about 750 homes and about 150 other structures.

Alaska Fire Service spokesman Mel Slater said the fire was sparked by an army artillery exercise on Fort Wainwright land.

Nearly 700 firefighters were working to try to control the blaze, which is the most serious of the more than 90 wildfires actively burning in Alaska, fire information officer Rich Phelps said. Firefighting teams include several crews from the Lower 48 states.

The affected area, with the unincorporated communities of Two Rivers and Pleasant Valley, is home to several top-ranked sled-dog racers and their kennels.

Smoke from this and other wildfires has created hazardous condition in interior Alaska.

Hot and dry weather for much of the summer has fueled a busy fire season this year in Alaska. More than 1 million acres had been burned in wildfires across the state as of Monday morning, officials reported. So far, 442 wildfires have burned in the state, including the 92 fires that were believed to be active as of Monday.

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