Alaska wildfire scorches more than 100,000 acres, threatens homes

Reuters News
Posted: May 25, 2014 11:24 AM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Firefighters in Alaska on Sunday were battling a massive wildfire that was pushing towards hundreds of homes and vacation cabins, with residents urged to be ready for a possible mandatory evacuation, state emergency officials said.

The Funny River wildfire was burning on more than 110,000 acres inside the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in southern Alaska, expanding from about 96,000 acres on Saturday, according to the Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team.

Crews reported some progress late Saturday, saying the six-day-old blaze was 20 percent contained. The Alaska Air National Guard and Anchorage Fire Department have joined 409 firefighters battling the blaze on the ground, emergency officials said.

More than 1,300 residents were placed under an evacuation advisory and urged to be ready to leave home should a mandatory evacuation order be issued.

Wildfires in Alaska's wooded areas are not uncommon during the summer months, but warm and dry spring conditions have given the fire season an early start, said Michelle Weston, a member of the Alaska Interagency Management Team.

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As a precaution, Alaska's Division of Forestry issued a statewide outdoor burn ban on Friday.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Sophie Hares)