Wildfire threatens homes near Fairbanks, Alaska
A fast-growing wildfire near Fairbanks, Alaska, prompted hundreds of people and sled dogs to flee Sunday afternoon.
Officials ordered evacuations for a 16-mile stretch of Chena Hot Springs Road in Two Rivers and Pleasant Valley, two suburbs of Fairbanks. About 430 structures were threatened, including an Air Force base.
The area is home to a number of Iditarod dog mushers, some of whom keep more than 100 sled dogs, said Michelle Weston, spokeswoman for the California Type 1 incident management team that is responding to the blaze. Some residents also own horses, she said.
“It’s a tricky place to evacuate,” Weston said.
The blaze was ignited June 19 during an artillery exercise on a U.S. Army range, Weston said. Since then it has burned more than 40,000 acres, chewing through dry black spruce for fuel.
Military helicopters and more than 400 firefighters have been deployed to combat the blaze.
No structures have been reported destroyed, but Weston said several military structures were believed to have been damaged.
Alaska has 94 active fires, 11 of which are staffed by fire crews.
Weston said that in 2013 alone, wildfires burned more than 1 million acres of Alaskan territory.
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