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Interior Alaska wildfires grow slightly in calm winds

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Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 5:03 pm, Wed Aug 14, 2013.

Clarification: This article has been edited to reflect that the Caribou Creek Fire is burning a former military training range, not current military land.

FAIRBANKS — Firefighters have switched their approach from a ground assault to structure protection at the newest Interior wildfire that is burning north of the Salcha River.

The Caribou Creek Fire, which was first reported Sunday afternoon 24 miles east of the Stuart Creek 2 Fire, was an estimated 1,100 acres Tuesday afternoon. It experienced limited growth, mostly on its northeast side in the previous 24 hours, said spokesman Matt Vos with the interagency team fighting the fire. Winds were calm Tuesday, mostly from the south, he said.

The fire started on land owned by the Alaska Mental Health Trust and is burning on a former military range where the risk of unexploded ordnance makes it more difficult to approach the fire, Vos said.

“None of it’s active, but it’s old things that have been found over the years, so they’re being cautious,” he said.

No structures are in imminent danger, he said. Firefighters are setting up pumps to protect structures in the area.

 The joint information center that handles public information about the fire received several calls from pilots and hunters asking about access to the area Tuesday, Vos said. There is still a flight restriction in a 5-mile radius around the fire, and they are advising people to avoid the area, he said.  

Mississippi Fire

Winds also were calm Tuesday at the Mississippi Fire, the 52,532-acre fire burning west of Delta Junction.

The latest acreage update is 11,698 acres, more than the most recent previous update, but some of that increase is from fire growth earlier in the week that had not yet been mapped, according to spokesman Pete Buist with the interagency team fighting the fire.

Winds were calm and from the northwest Tuesday, he said.

Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.

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