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Rain moderates Interior Alaska fires

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Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2011 11:07 pm | Updated: 1:17 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — Rain moderated activity on two major Interior fires Thursday and gave firefighters a reprieve.

The Hastings Fire, which grew to 24,069 acres after being fed by dry conditions and strong wind late Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning, was much calmer Thursday.

“It is not moving significantly. Most of what is burning is in the interior of the fire,” said Pete Buist, public information officer for the Alaska Type One Incident Management Team.

Progress was made Wednesday on the northeast corner of the fire, which is burning west of the Elliott Highway and north of the Chatanika River.

“It’s a successfully burned-out line. We took a dozer line and improved it using hand crews and the fire is now stalled there,” Buist said.

The 811 firefighters working on the fire used the lull Thursday to catch up on building line in areas that need it most. The highest priority was the construction of a line around the southeast corner of the fire, which had moved toward the Chatanika River after winds pushed it into an area of solid black spruce.

Another priority was the west end of the fire, where it hooked around and threatened a spike camp Tuesday night. Crews planned to extend the fire line to the west and tie it to an area burned in the Hard Luck Fire of 2009.

Fire lines at McCloud Subdivision are complete, and structure protection for Desperation Subdivision and Hayes Subdivision is ongoing.

Elsewhere, rain in the Delta area Thursday allowed crews to continue to mop up the perimeter of the East Volkmar Fire. The perimeter line was successfully extended around a 300-acre area that broke out of the containment line Tuesday.

No appreciable growth was expected if the rain persisted throughout the day, said Sharon Roesch, public information officer for the East Volkmar fire. Officials are hoping for several days of cooler, damp weather so crews can continue to build more line.

Current figures list the total acreage consumed in the East Volkmar fire as 51,570, but crews were unable to map the entire fire Wednesday, and that figure is expected to rise.

The fire is 9 percent contained and has 326 firefighters working on it.

Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7590.

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