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Officials downgrade Stuart Creek fire

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Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 1:35 pm | Updated: 4:36 pm, Tue Jul 23, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — Fire officials downgraded the seriousness of the Stuart Creek 2 Fire and a higher-level management team left Wednesday as local authorities took over.

The Type I team, the kind that responds to the most serious fires in the United States, was brought in earlier this month to lead crews handling the blaze between Salcha and Chena Hot Springs Road.

A Type II team composed of Alaska fire managers will resume control of efforts to battle the fire, which has held relatively steady in recent days, Alaska Fire Service spokesman Bernie Pineda said.

The Stuart Creek 2 Fire covered 85,475 acres and was still about 57 percent contained, about the same as Monday, Pineda said Wednesday. The only growth was in the northeast corner, where the fire added about 1,000 acres after winds shifted Monday evening.

“The amount of work that had been done by the Type I team put it below the bar of complexity, where the Type II team now could go ahead and polish it off,” Pineda said.

Drops in temperature and increases in humidity have been a boon to fire crews and are expected to stick around until at least Friday, according to Pineda, making it much harder for the fire to spread.

“It’s going to take a lot more heat to burn that, and if it does, it’s going to burn very, very slow,” he said. “The growth will be nil for the most part.”

The Fairbanks Area Division of Forestry said Wednesday that several logging roads will remain closed because of the Stuart Creek 2 Fire. Three logging roads — Jenny M Road, Grange Hall South Road and Chena Access Lane — between 20 Mile and 26 Mile Chena Hot Springs Road — will stay closed.

The Two Rivers Logging Road near 18 Mile has been reopened with the lifting of the Two Rivers evacuation watch.

West of Fairbanks, at the Skinny’s Road Fire, the division is maintaining the closure of the Skinny’s Logging Road north of 327 Mile Parks Highway.

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