Alaska News Nightly: June 17, 2015

Stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.

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Firefighters Report Good Progress on Sockeye Fire

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Firefighters are reporting good progress on the Sockeye Fire near Willow. The 7,500-acre fire does not appear to have grown on Wednesday and firefighters have encircled the perimeter  and are working to put out hotspots. They are expected to advance into the interior of the fire where they can address other hotspots or areas that may be burning underground. The fire is still considered at zero containment but that may start to change later Wednesday night and into Thursday. Evacuations are still in place. Red flag warnings remain the thunder cells that passed over the area Tuesday night did not drop any rain on the fire.

Card Street Fire Grows to 3,000 Acres; Moves Away from Residential Areas Along River

Shaylon Cochran, KDLL – Kenai and Jenny Neyman, KDLL – Kenai
The Card Street Fire has burned 11 structures and had spread to 3,000 acres, according to Terry Anderson of the Division of Forestry. The fire on Wednesday was driven by westerly winds which were pushing flames into the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in the direction of Skilak Lake Loop Road. The area is a popular recreation area, but the campgrounds near Skilak Lake have been cleared. The fire was moving away from residential areas on the banks of the Kenai River.

Lightning Thought to Cause Cooper Landing Fires

By Shady Grove Oliver, KBBI – Homer, Phillip Manning, KTNA – Talkeetna and Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchorage
Lightning strikes are thought to be the cause of two new fires that started Tuesday near the Kenai Peninsula community of Cooper Landing. Both fires are at zero percent containment and power lines have been shut off near the larger fire.

New Fires Ignite Near Healy Lake

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Lightning ignited two new wildfires east of Delta Junction Tuesday night. Fairbanks-Delta area state fire management officer Ed Sanford says the blazes near the small community of Healy Lake resulted from numerous lightning strikes that hit a swath of Alaska. He says air tankers were deployed on the fires, but they were growing too aggressively to knock down.

2015 Alaskan Wildfire Tally is Below Normal

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
So far this year, about 78,000 acres have burned in 280 fires in Alaska. That may sound like a lot, but it’s actually below normal. That’s according to Pete Buist, a public information officer for the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center. Buist has worked on fires in Alaska and the rest of the country for 48 seasons.

As Fires Burn, Agencies Coordinate Helicopters to Gift Cards for Relief

Zachariah Hughes, KSKA – Anchorage
Combating the wildfires breaking out across the Alaska involves a mix of local, state, and federal resources. But amid organizational and financial complexities, most of the immediate needs on the ground are quite basic. A level below ground in the National Guard Armory at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, the State’s Emergency Operation Center is a hive of computer monitors, flat-screen TVs, and telephones.

Groundwater Contamination Spreads off Eielson Air Force Base

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Ground water contamination at Eielson Air Force Base has spread off the facility. A chemical thought to originate from firefighting foam used at the base prior to the year 2000, is being detected in groundwater wells in a nearby subdivision.

 

Navy Reps Hear Complaints on Northern Edge Exercises

Quinton Chandler, KBBI- Homer
Four representatives travelled to Homer to explain the purpose of Northern Edge. Captain Raymond Hesser is a naval officer with Alaskan Command. “We as a team were able to present a lot of information. I’m sure they learned something and the whole point was an information exchange. We gave them some information and then we were able to listen. I think we got a pretty good amount of feedback,” Hesser says.