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Wildfire smoke lingers over Fairbanks, but air quality alert lifted

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Posted: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 12:43 am | Updated: 1:27 pm, Wed Dec 26, 2012.

Updated with notice from borough that air quality advisory has been canceled as of 2 p.m. 7/13/10

FAIRBANKS — The Fairbanks North Star Borough has canceled its air quality advisory.

Smoke from wildfires south of town led to unhealthy levels of particulate pollution on Tuesday morning. Shifting winds mean some areas may still experience thick smoke. Borough officials advise residents to use the “Judging Particulate Levels in Your Area” chart, and follow the advice for local smoke visibility. http://co.fairbanks.ak.us/airquality/Docs/ParticulateLevels.pdf

Strong winds fanned the Willow Creek Fire about 10 miles southwest of town, sending a large plume of smoke over the city Monday night. The fire, which was started by lightning on June 10, has burned 3,289 acres, an increase of 1,000 acres in the past 24 hours, said Sarah Saarloos, a fire information officer with the Alaska Fire Service.

Since the fire is located on a former U.S. Army bombing range, firefighters have been managing it via helicopters and riverboats, to avoid potential unexploded ordnance in the area.

The fire is being managed by the Alaska Fire Service. Multiple daily flights are being made and the blaze is being mapped, Saarloos said. In addition, Alaska smokejumpers are patrolling the fire in riverboats along the Tanana.

Strong wind Sunday and Monday reactivated the fire’s growth, primarily in the southeast corner of the fire’s perimeter.

Also burning nearby is the Clear Creek Butte No. 2 Fire. It is a new lightning-ignited blaze, about 12 acres in size, located about 10 miles southeast of the Willow Creek Fire. Although small in size, it could produce visible smoke in the Fairbanks area.

For additional air quality information, visit www.fnsb.us then select the “air quality” link.

More information about Alaska wildfires, including maps and photographs, can be accessed at http://www.inciweb.org.

The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center also produces a daily statewide summary of wildfire activity called Morning Highlights, available at http://fire.ak.blm.gov/content/news/highlights/current.pdf.

Contact staff writer Mary Beth Smetzer at 459-7546.

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