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Willow fire contained but wildfire danger elsewhere still high

by Sue Deyoe ~ May 31st, 2011

On Sunday evening, a wildfire at milepost 74 of the George Parks Highway was reported to the division of forestry.  Two helicopters, a tanker plane, lead plane, three Mat Su area engines as well as a Gannett Glacier crew, and several Borough fire engines responded to the fire.  The fire produced a lot of smoke and the Parks Highway was closed for about two hours while crews fought the fire.

Fire information officer Joel Nudelman  said they contained the fire Monday morning.  The fire was originally reported at 20 acres, but Nudelman said the smoke made it difficult to know exactly how large the fire had spread.  The fire is now mapped at 7 acres.  He says it was definitely human caused but it is still under investigation.  He reported a couple other small incidents over the weekend of Borough-area campfires not being extinguished and spreading slightly, but those were quickly contained by fire personnel.

A crew continues to work on putting out the remnants of the Willow fire, which is being called the Mae Loop fire.

If winds shift, there is a potential for Upper Valley residents to see the effect of fires burning north and east of Healy.  The Healy Creek fire is now at 200 acres.  Even though the fire is 95% contained, division of forestry will not declare it controlled because of burning coal seams.

The Coal Creek fire east and north of Healy is now over 23,000 acres.  22 personnel are working on the fire.  It is currently the largest fire burning in the state.

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