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Official: Weather aids crews on Stuart Creek wildfire, but threat remains

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Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 6:00 pm | Updated: 4:36 pm, Tue Jul 23, 2013.

FAIRBANKS—The Stuart Creek 2 Fire’s leading northern edge was too fast to cut off for days, but fire crews are now able to build a line along that side because of better weather.

On Tuesday, fire crews worked on a line to the south of the Chena River and the north of the fire between 29 Mile and 30 Mile, said Mel Slater, a spokesman with the interagency team fighting the fire. As of Tuesday evening, the fire was 15 percent contained, he said.

During a major run toward the Chena River on Sunday, the fire was kept to the south side of the river except for an isolated patch where it spotted over. The fire destroyed at least a couple of isolated structures on the south side of the river, though the exact number has not been confirmed, Slater said.

Rain and cooler weather have helped firefighters on the 82,274-acre fire. An evacuation watch, which advises residents to be prepared to leave again, remains in effect from 16 Mile to 32 Mile.

Michelle Weston, another public information officer with the firefighting effort, said Tuesday morning that she advised multiple people to leave dog boxes on their trucks for now because the danger has not passed.

Warmer, drier weather is in the forecast, though crews plan to have better defenses set up by then.

“The watch is going to remain until they feel confident they can remove it. So right now, the watch is still in place,” she said. “It’s not contained.”

More than 700 people are assigned to the fire, and while there has been some staff rotation, no major demobilization is planned in the immediate future, Weston said.

The fire ignited June 19 in the military Yukon Training Area and has spread mostly to the north recently.

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

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