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Stuart Creek 2 Fire springs back to life, blanket Fairbanks region with smoke

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Posted: Saturday, August 10, 2013 12:23 pm | Updated: 12:06 pm, Mon Aug 12, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — The Interior was blanketed with thick, acrid smoke Saturday with prolonged hot weather allowing the Stuart Creek 2 Fire to begin burning green hardwoods.

Even though the Stuart Creek 2 Fire east of North Pole was brought under containment last month, a lack of rain and continued warm weather has allowed it to tap into unburnt fuels, said Alaska Fire Service spokesman Terry Anderson.

Some activities were cancelled in town because of the smoke, including a high school football jamboree to be hosted at Lathrop High School.

The prolonged dry season is drying out hardwoods to the point that they can burn, producing the particularly acrid smoke seen and smelled in Fairbanks today.

“Things are holding there and the smoke levels are due to unburned pockets of fuel. That fire won’t be out until it rains,” he said. “Usually, we don’t see this happening. ... We’re up against a lot of fuels that are burning that shouldn’t be burning this time of year.”

Anderson said fires this late in the season are rare and that the rest of the state is on an elevated watch for the risk of old fires coming back to life or new fires springing up.

“What’s unusual is how dry this summer is. Usually in this time we’re in a rainy season,” he said. “This is unprecedented for the dryness of the fuels. You have Red Flag conditions funneling the winds. When you have a combination of record drying, then those fires continue to burn.”

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 458-7544 and follow him on Twitter:

@FDNMpolitics.

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