Kenai fire flares, Interior blazes joined into 'Railroad Complex'

SHANTA CREEK: Wildfire has contributed to haze over anchorage lately.

July 12, 2009 

The Shanta Creek fire on the Kenai Peninsula began showing signs of activity Sunday afternoon, after a brief respite produced by cool moist air over the area earlier in the day.

As temperatures rose and relative humidity dropped firefighters noted islands of flame in heavy beetle-killed spruce stands on the southeast and northeast side of the fire area.

The fire is moving slowly to the east, through strips of black spruce between wet muskeg meadow and not currently threatening any highways or residential areas.

Shanta Creek is among the fires that have made the air hazy and smoky in Anchorage and elsewhere.

Work continues on creating fire suppression lines along the north boundary of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and at strategic locations inside, the Division of Forestry said Sunday evening.

More than 400 firefighters and support personnel are working on the effort, which includes 10 fire engines, three bull dozers, seven helicopters, five Hotshot crews and 10 regular crews.

No evacuations have been ordered. The Kenai Peninsula Borough is working on contingency plans incase the first moves to the north and built-up areas.

Meanwhile up north, crews continue to battle Interior fires, responding to a new 300-acre fire caused by lightning at June Creek Saturday night, located 33 miles south of Nenana and five miles west of the Parks Highway. This was the third fire in the June Creek area and is close to other fires at Minto Flats and Lunch Lake -- now being referred to collectively by state officials as the Railbelt Complex fires.

Drying weather conditions continue to prevail and the fire activity is expected to follow suit.

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