Alaska News Nightly: August 6, 2007

A small plane crashed into a home in downtown Sitka this afternoon. The homeowner wasn’t inside at the time, but authorities don’t know how many people were on board the plane. Plus, a biologist in Anchorage looks at the mystery of how many great white sharks may be living in Alaska waters. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Small plane crashes into downtown Sitka home
Melissa Marconi-Wentzel, KCAW – Sitka
A small plane crashed into a home in downtown Sitka a little before 1:00 p.m. today. According to a press release from the Sitka Police Department, the plane was a single-engine Piper Malibu with possibly four people on board. The plane struck a small house on a street about one block from the heart of town.

Photo by Valorie Nelson, Sitka, AKPhoto by Valorie Nelson, Sitka, AKPhoto by Valorie Nelson, Sitka, AK
Photos courtesy Valorie Nelson, Sitka, AK

NTSB issues preliminary report on fatal Ketchikan small plane crash
Deanne Garrison, KRBD – Ketchikan
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says weather conditions were quickly deteriorating at the time of a fatal float plane crash two weeks ago in Misty Fjords National Monument near Ketchikan. The NTSB issued its preliminary report on the crash late last week. The crash killed the pilot and all four passengers.

Three more Fort Richardson soldiers die in Iraq
The Associated Press
U.S. Army officials say three Fort Richardson soldiers have been killed in Iraq. Sergeant Dustin S. Wakeman (25) of Fort Worth, Texas, Specialist Jaron D. Holliday (21) of Tulsa, Oklahoma and Corporal Jason K. Lafleur (28) of Ignacio, Colorado died Saturday from wounds they suffered when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle. They were on a mounted patrol at the time. The soldiers were among 3,500 members assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, which deployed to Iraq last fall. Since then, 51 soldiers from the unit have been killed.

UAF captures $9 million to develop more research funding
Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
A $9 million federal grant will help the University of Alaska study changes in the Arctic. The funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) is going to the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program in Fairbanks. Project director and UAF professor Peter Schweitzer says the money will go toward making the University of Alaska more competitive for research funding.

Great white sharks prowling Alaskan waters
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
When you think about top predators in Alaska, Great White sharks probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. But the giant fish are here, feeding on the state’s abundance of blubber-rich marine mammals. They are secretive creatures — no one knows how many live in Alaskan waters nor how far north they travel. We spoke with biologist and author Bruce Wright about the creatures and his new book.

Lance Mackey and others prepping for 2008 Yukon Quest and Iditarod
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Yukon Quest’s early sign up deadline passed over the weekend. Fifteen mushers registered early for next February’s race, including defending champion Lance Mackey and past Quest winners Bill Cotter and Sonny Lindner. Mackey, who became the first musher to win both the Quest and Iditarod in the same season last year is again signed up for both 1,000-mile races. Quest managing director Tania Simpson says Mackey’s accomplishment has generated a lot of excitement running up to the Quest’s silver anniversary race.

Kake Tribal Corp buying into hydro power construction project
Joe Viechnicki, KFSK – Petersburg
Kake Tribal Corporation is taking over an effort to build hydro electric power plants on the mainland north of Petersburg. The Native corporation for the southeast Alaska community says it’s buying out the rights to the project from a Washington state company that had run into political problems.

Eastern Gulf of Alaska bouy and weather data services restored
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
The Cape Edgecumbe weather buoy is back in service, restoring a vital window on the weather for mariners off the coast of Sitka Sound. The Coast Guard cutter Maple replaced the former “84” buoy on Monday with a new buoy about one nautical mile to the south.