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article imageAlaska wildfires 'human-caused' — Resources stretched thin

By Karen Graham     Jun 17, 2015 in World
An Alaska wildfire along a main highway between Achorage and Fairbanks grew by a thousand acres on Wednesday. The Sockeye fire, named for a street in Willow where it started on Sunday, has now blackened 12 square miles.
Ground enforcements, including additional staff and aircraft were expected to arrive on Wednesday, lending support to resources already stretched thin, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry.
One of the primary concerns is the safety of firefighters, as well as the threat of the blazes spreading. The low humidity and threat of dry thunderstorms, with temperatures in the low-80s, are keeping authorities on high alert.
Location of the major fires in Alaska.
Location of the major fires in Alaska.
The human-caused Sockeye fire is burning on both sides of the Parks Highway along a corridor bordered by the Susitna River on the west, and the Alaska Railroad tracks on the east. Around 300 people are working this fire that burned 25 homes and 10 to 20 other structures, reports
The Susitna River is a natural barrier, and the firefighters are using the Alaska Railroad tracks as firebreak on the east side of the Parks Highway. Firefighters have been using some of the many forest roads in this area to protect the neighboring highway communities of Caswell Creek and Montana Creek to the north. "We don’t want the fire getting anywhere near those communities,” one fire official said.
The second fire started as a one-acre grass fire off Card Street in Sterling on the Kenai Peninsula, on Monday. By Tuesday, that fire had burned three square miles and destroyed six homes, said state Division of Forestry spokesman Andy Alexandrou,
A third fire, started by lightning on Sunday, has burned 500 acres on an island in the Tanana River, three miles northwest of the village of Dot Lake. Forestry personnel used water scooping aircraft, fire-retardent tanker planes and helicopters with buckets of water, along with 94 firefighters on the ground on Tuesday, trying to keep the fire from jumping the river.
On Wednesday, Alaska Interagency Coordination Center spokesman Tim Mowry said resources are being stretched thin as firefighters concentrate on the 640-acre wildfire threatening homes on the Kenai peninsula. There is also concern that the fire will jump the Kenai River.
As of Wednesday, there were 43 active wildland fires in Alaska, although not all of them were staffed.
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