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Smoke from Kenai Peninsula wildfire blows into Interior Alaska

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Posted: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 8:58 am | Updated: 8:28 am, Wed May 28, 2014.

FAIRBANKS - Smoke from a distant fire blew into the Tanana Valley late Monday night and Tuesday morning. 

The Kenai Peninsula’s massive Funny River Fire is burning more than 400 miles to the south and west of Fairbanks. 

On Monday wind carried the smoke to the Tanana Valley, dropping visibility to 3 miles and worsening air quality. 

The air cleaned up Tuesday afternoon as southwest winds became winds from the west. Visibility increased to 10 miles. 

The smoke forecast is better today, National Weather Service meteorologist Cary Freeman said Tuesday evening.  

Winds are likely to increase Thursday or Friday, but whether they will carry smoke to Fairbanks depends on what’s happening in the Kenai Peninsula. 

On Tuesday, evacuation orders were lifted in the Funny River Fire area as the first of what’s forecast to be several days of rain fell on the 176,069-acre blaze, according to The Associated Press. 

A staff of about 670 people is fighting the fire, which was considered 30 percent contained as of Tuesday. The fire started May 19.

As of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s air pollution monitoring stations rated Fairbanks and North Pole air as “moderate,” a classification that comes with the recommendation that “unusually sensitive people” consider avoiding prolonged exertion.

Fire activity in the Interior has been quiet so far this season. 

While there have been several fires, most have been squelched before spreading beyond a handful of acres. 

The Interior’s largest staffed wildland fire by far is the 378-acre Dalton River River Crossing fire, burning near the Dalton Highway, 120 miles north of Fairbanks. That fire started May 20 and was 95 percent contained as of Tuesday, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center’s daily situation report. 

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

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