FAIRBANKS - Fire crews allowed residents of Tanacross and the nearby Eagle Subdivision to return home Saturday night but wildfire managers continued to call a nearby blaze the top priority among dozens of fires burning across a dry, hot Interior.
Firefighters think the 8,640-acre wildfire, dubbed the Eagle Trail fire, was started by lightning Wednesday. It is burning less than a mile south of the village of Tanacross and state-based fire crews have enlisted the help of of eight specialized hotshot teams from outside Alaska, according to the multi-agency Incident Information System.
Meanwhile another blaze southwest of Nenana continued to grow last week and now stands at an estimated 60,000 acres, said Pete Buist, a fire information officer. The weeks-old Toklat Fire is likely the largest of dozens of fires benefiting from persistent heat and a lack of rain.
Elsewhere, the Cascaden Ridge blaze 10 to 15 miles west of Livengood measured nearly 10,000 acres early Sunday and smoke was stopping traffic on the Elliott Highway, state information officers said. The nearby Applegate Fire is burning 25 miles northeast of Manley Hot Springs and the Gilles Creek fire near Delta Junction is burning on both sides of the road leading to the Pogo gold mine, they said.
Buist said the unstaffed Granite Tors fire can be seen from Fairbanks when wind patterns allow, while the Mississippi Impact Area fire, started on military land 10 miles southwest of Delta, was blanketing the town with smoke.
"There are fires in almost every direction. So whatever direction the wind blows we're going to get smoke," Buist said of Fairbanks. He said people should expect to smell and see smoke as long as the streak of hot weather holds.
Buist said fire crews are using the parts of the Tanana River downstream from Nenana and the Kantishna River to ferry people and equipment, something boaters should be aware of.
Contact staff writer Christopher Eshleman at 459-7582.