Ben Anderson

WILLOW -- A wildfire that swallowed homes and prompted a 15-mile-long evacuation order Sunday in and around the Southcentral Alaska community of Willow spent Monday sitting mostly stagnant at about 6,500 acres, though it remained dynamic enough to keep emergency responders on the move.

The fire picked up later in the day as erratic winds began whipping it back into action. The Sockeye fire had grown to 8,500 acres as of 9:30 p.m. Monday, according to Vickielee Fenster, a public information officer for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. (A subsequent survey reduced that estimate by about 1,000 acres to 7,585 acres.)...

Ben Anderson,Nathaniel Herz,Zaz Hollander

Update, 5:45 a.m. Monday: Alaska State Troopers early Monday identified the second plane as a Cessna 172, flown by 27-year-old Cole Hagge, of Eagle River. In an online dispatch, troopers wrote that the two planes collided about 100 feet above the runway. Hagge was the only person injured in the collision, troopers said. He was taken to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center to be treated for injuries that troopers said were not life-threatening. Troopers identified the pilot of the Cessna 185 as 32-year-old Antonio Benavides, of Anchorage.

Original story:

Two planes, including an air taxi carrying four passengers, collided while attempting to land at the Talkeetna Airport on Sunday, according to the National Transportation Safety Board...

Ben Anderson

An FBI explosive ordnance disposal unit was taken via an Alaska State Troopers helicopter this week to a mining camp north of the Eureka Roadhouse along the Glenn Highway to detonate a batch of old dynamite discovered at the camp by the property's new owner.

According to troopers, the dynamite was discovered Wednesday at a mining camp near the Tyone Creek area in the historic Valdez Creek Mining District. More than 300,000 ounces of gold have been pulled from placer mines in the district since initial mining began in the early 1900s, according to a 1990 report from the Bureau of Land Management ...

Ben Anderson

Anchorage police said Wednesday that they were investigating the "suspicious" deaths of four people found in a South Anchorage apartment.

Police were contacted by a relative of one of the residents around 12:30 p.m. The man told them he hadn't heard from his family and was going to check on them, according to Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Castro. The relative entered the apartment in a fourplex in the 500 block of East 74th Avenue to find four people dead. Castro wasn't sure how long it had been since the relative had last spoken with his family.

"There's a clear indication that the deaths seem suspicious," Castro said, though she wouldn't elaborate...

Jerzy Shedlock,Ben Anderson

Thirty-five firearms, personal documents, rare paintings and family heirlooms: Those are among the items Alaska State Troopers said they recovered from two Wasilla residents suspected of six separate burglaries and a string of mail thefts in the Mat-Su.

Two other suspects, officials believe, may be involved in the burglaries and remained at large Sunday...

Ben Anderson

Anchorage police said Sunday a motorcyclist is in critical condition following a Saturday night crash in East Anchorage involving a car driven by a man suspected to be under the influence of alcohol.

Police have arrested 44-year-old Franklin Townsend and charged him with operating under the influence, third-degree assault and refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test after the crash, which occurred about 8:30 p.m. near the intersection of Debarr Road and Edward Street...

Ben Anderson

A 20-year-old man was arrested early Wednesday after an armed citizen confronted two suspects whom Anchorage police say robbed a nearby gas station and pepper-sprayed employees and a customer.

According to a release from the Anchorage Police Department, Brion M. Brown and another man had entered a Tesoro station on Boniface Parkway in East Anchorage about midnight Tuesday, and one demanded money from the clerk while wielding pepper spray and a knife. Both men were wearing masks, police said.

After one clerk complied with the men's demands, the suspects pepper-sprayed two employees and a customer, police said...

Ben Anderson

Update, 6:30 a.m., Monday:

Fairbanks North Star Borough schools are closed Monday because of icy conditions, the district's website said , and all school-related classes are canceled as well because of the freezing rain. Classes are also canceled for Monday at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the university said in an alert , though the campus will remain open.

Original story:...

Ben Anderson

Anchorage police said Sunday that, for the second night in a row, they were investigating an early-morning shooting at a parking lot outside Chilkoot Charlie's, a popular watering hole in the Anchorage neighborhood of Spenard. Each left a man critically injured by gunfire.

Police reported they were called to the scene around 3 a.m. Sunday to investigate reports of gunfire, including a shooter firing from a vehicle.

"Police responded to the scene and did not locate any victims at the scene but found traces of blood in the parking lot," Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Castro wrote in a release. "Shortly thereafter, police were notified that a gunshot wound victim had shown up at a local hospital with critical injuries."...

Ben Anderson

A new survey of Americans has revealed that Alaska ranks highest in the nation for residents' well-being, as determined by indicators including social satisfaction, good health and sense of purpose...

Ben Anderson