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article imageAlaska wildfires destroy dozens of homes, menace highway

By Karen Graham     Jun 16, 2015 in World
Two fast-growing Alaska wildfires have already destroyed 45 homes and forced a number of evacuations as well as restricting traffic on a major highway connecting two of the state's largest cities on Tuesday.
Firefighters are continuing to battle two very serious wildfires, one that started on Sunday, and another on Monday afternoon, that have forced numerous evacuations and already destroyed many homes.
The latest fire, on the Kenai Peninsula, is about 150 miles south of the huge, 6,500-acre "Sockeye" wildfire that started on Sunday near Willow, in the heart of dog sled country. The Sockeye blaze prompted volunteers to make sure residents, sled dogs, and other animals were evacuated.
The smaller fire, on the Kenai Peninsula, started Monday as a one-acre grass fire, but quickly spread to over 640 acres, threatening some 200 homes. Alaska's Department of Natural Resources said in a news release that the "explosive wild-land fire on the Kenai Peninsula forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes," but there were no precise figures, according to the Associated Press.
Additional firefighters from the lower 48 and Canada were brought in Monday night and joined the firelines on Tuesday, Alaska Forestry Division spokesman Sam Harrel said. Harrel also said the larger fire, started on Sunday was caused by human activity. The "Sockeye" fire when first reported was about two acres in size but grew to 6,500 acres in 11 hours.
Steve Charles, a member of the Willow Dog Mushers Association said when the fire started on Sunday, volunteers were called, and people went out with dog boxes in the back of their pickups, rescuing hundreds of dogs. Charles said when he returned to his home in south Willow, he found out his neighborhood was threatened. "I didn't realize I would have to be evacuating myself," he says.
The Division of Forestry said on their Facebook update that temperatures on Tuesday are expected to be in the mid-80s, with low relative humidity and a chance of dry thunderstorms moving across the fire area in the afternoon. They added, "Keep your fingers crossed."
More about Alaska, wildfitres, Kenai peninsulA, Sled dogs, Human activity
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