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Travel still restricted as crews work on Skinny's Road wildfire

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Posted: Sunday, June 30, 2013 4:58 pm | Updated: 4:37 pm, Tue Jul 23, 2013.

FAIRBANKS—More than 250 fire personnel continue working Sunday on the Skinny’s Road fire, which hasn’t increased much in size but remains a challenge for crews.

“It’s going well, but it’s still a fragile situation,” said fire information officer Brian Ballou, part of a fire management team from Oregon that assumed control of the fire Sunday morning.

“It’s extremely dry, and the way that the fire burned, it didn’t burn everything,” he said, “so the potential is strong for having torching and reburning inside the fire lines.”

Renewed activity inside the fire lines could allow the blaze to jump the lines as it throws up embers, Ballou said.

The fire, which started on Tuesday and was burning between Fairbanks and Nenana, was listed at 1,422 acres Sunday and 40 percent contained. Crews continued building fire lines overnight Saturday.

The fire is listed as being caused by a person, but the specific action that caused the fire has not been stated.

Pilot cars have been in use from milepost 332 to milepost 322 to guide traffic through the fire zone from 6 a.m. to midnight. Traffic can proceed without pilot cars from midnight to 6 a.m.

The use of pilot cars is likely to continue for a few more days, Ballou said, but fire managers regularly evaluate the situation in hopes of ending the need for the traffic disruption.

“There’s just enough heavy fire traffic — a lot of engines running back and forth — plus we still do have some fire line to finish, and the possibility still exists that we could get a large amount of smoke in short bit of time,” Ballou said.

“It’s really a safety issue for both the public and the firefighters,” he said.

Elsewhere, activity on the Stuart Creek 2 fire increased markedly this weekend, sending more smoke into some of the Fairbanks area. The human-caused fire, now at 2,000 acres, started June 19 and is burning on military land.

“That is in the far upper reaches of the south fork of the Chena, so in theory it could hit Chena Hot Springs Road, so we’re using both water with CL-215 aircraft and retardant,” fire information officer Pete Buist said.

Ground personnel are not being used much on the Stuart fire because it is on a military training range.

Contact managing editor Rod Boyce at 459-7585. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMeditor.

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