Wildfires prompt evacuation alerts in Alaska

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 A “Bambi Bucket,” hanging from a helicopter releases hundreds of gallons of water onto the Stetson Creek Fire near Cooper Landing, Alaska on June 17, 2015. (Sgt. Balinda O’Neal/U.S. Army National Guard via AP)
A “Bambi Bucket,” hanging from a helicopter releases hundreds of gallons of water onto the Stetson Creek Fire near Cooper Landing, Alaska on June 17, 2015. (Sgt. Balinda O’Neal/U.S. Army National Guard via AP)
Wildfires prompted an evacuation notice for a six-mile stretch of the Elliot Highway in Interior Alaska on Monday evening, while the village of Nulato in Western Alaska remained under a recommended-evacuation alert because of smoke from a nearby wildfire, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

The Baker fire and, to the northeast, the North Fork fire were nearly four miles from the Elliot Highway and northeast of Manley Hot Springs. The sizes of the fires Monday were not immediately known; the last estimates of the fires on Sunday put the Baker fire at 5 acres and the North Fork fire at 20 acres, according to the coordination center in Fairbanks.

The evacuation notice issued Monday evening covered the Elliot Highway from Mile 131 to Mile 137. With limited cell phone service in the area, officials could not do a reverse 911 call and were relying on door-to-door notification, said Kale Casey, a public information officer at the coordination center.

According to early estimates, 20 to 30 parcels of land are along that stretch of the highway and many had structures on them, he said.

Evacuation by boat

A quickly growing wildfire near the village of Nulato put the 200 or so residents under a recommended evacuation, according to Andrea Capps, a public information officer at the coordination center.

Nulato is on the west bank of the Yukon River, 35 miles west of Galena. Alaska’s road system does not connect to Nulato and smoke has led fire officials to deem flying out of the village unsafe, so people had to evacuate by boat, Capps said.

The latest estimate put the fire near Nulato at 75 acres, though Capps said it has grown. “It’s kind of unfolding too fast,” she said.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Soot from Canadian wildfires may have increased Greenland ice melt, Radio Canada International

Finland: Smoke from Russian fires detected in Finland, Yle News

Russia: Smoke from Russian fires detected in Finland, Yle News

Sweden:  Swedish Biologists: “Turn forest fire area into nature reserve”, Radio Sweden

United States:  2015 Alaskan wildfire tally below normal, Alaska Public Radio Network

 

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