FAIRBANKS - A previously unreported coal seam fire flared up Wednesday, sending up a large plume of smoke visible from Healy.
The Alaska Division of Forestry is monitoring the blaze, which is the fourth coal seam fire reported this year northeast of Healy. Strong winds stoked the fire Wednesday. It is burning in an old burn scar a couple of miles from another coal seam fire, the 2016 French Gulch Fire. The Division of Forestry dropped a load of water on the north side to contain it in the burn scar.
Coal seam fires, which result from the underground smoldering of coal deposits, are common in the Healy area, where large areas to the north and east are underlain with coal seams and coal seam outcrops. During warm, dry conditions, the fires sometimes come to the surface and ignite grass surrounding the coal seam.
The latest fire is located in a drainage surrounded by old burn scars as a result of previous coal seam fires and does not pose a threat at this time. All four fires are in areas that have burned previously as a result of coal seam fires. Last summer, there were nine coal seam fires reported in the Healy area that burned almost 800 acres.