FAIRBANKS - Fire crews were able to keep a handful of Interior Alaska wildfires in check today, despite parched weather and record-breaking heat throughout the Fairbanks area.
The temperature at Fairbanks International Airport had climbed to 82 degrees by about 2 p.m., surpassing a record temperature of 80 degrees set in 2002. Temperatures were expected to continue to climb through the afternoon. That followed an 80-degree day on Friday, the first time Fairbanks has reached that milestone this year.
The National Weather Service extended a red flag warning for the area through 10 p.m., cautioning that humidity had dipped to an almost non-existent 13 percent in some areas. In those conditions, "any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly," according to the warning statement.
However, fire crews managed to keep a several significant Interior Alaska fires under control today, allowing traffic to continue along three highways that pass through active burn areas.
The Seaton Roadhouse Fire, burning near 1234 Mile Alaska Highway between Tok and the Canada border, remains at about 340 acres, as crews create a saw line along the south side of the highway.
The Bolgen Creek Fire, between Circle and Central along the Steese Highway, is 90 percent contained at about 560 acres. The seven-acre Woods Creek Fire near Boundary on the Top of the World Highway was classified as 100 percent contained.
Only one new fire was added to the fire report this morning, a structure fire in the North Pole area that was quickly extinguished on Friday after it spread to surrounding grasses. Alaska Division of Forestry spokesman Tim Mowry said a trailer was destroyed in the blaze, but additional information about the cause and specific location were unavailable Saturday.
Some relief should arrived today, as a low-pressure system from the Bering Sea coast shifts cooler air into the Interior. High temperatures are forecast in the mid-60s on Memorial Day, along with scattered showers.
If those rains materialize, Monday would be only the second day with measurable precipitation this month. But National Weather Service meteorologist Ben Bartos said Fairbanks residents should not expect a deluge, with the system expected to lose much of its moisture as it passes over the Alaska Range.
"It'll just be a little," he said. "The direction it's coming from doesn't lend itself to a heavy weather event."
Contact staff writer Jeff Richardson at 459-7518. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMbusiness.