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Originally published Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 9:12 PM

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Rain, cool temperatures slow growth of Alaska wildfire

A change in the weather has allowed firefighters in Alaska to take the offensive in the Funny River fire, which officials declared 30 percent contained.


The Associated Press

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ANCHORAGE — Temperatures in the low 50s and continued light rain allowed firefighters on the 286-square-mile Funny River fire to go on the offensive, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The fire has burned on the Kenai Peninsula since May 19.

The human-caused fire has been confined mostly to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, but has burned four remote cabins and a lean-to.

Weather officials recorded four-hundredths of an inch of rain Tuesday night into Wednesday. The temperature at 1 p.m. Wednesday was 52, with 82 percent humidity.

That was enough to change conditions, spokesman Bernie Pineda said, after photos showed flames reaching high into the sky and colossal, billowing clouds of smoke.

Lichens, grasses, spruce needles and woody debris will still burn if ignited, but have picked up enough moisture to smolder first, he said.

“You’re not going to see the effects like we did two to three days ago when the humidity was much lower,” he said.

Fire officials declared the fire 30 percent contained, with the bulk of the containment on the fire’s west side, near Kasilof.

Crews on Wednesday were not seeing much expansion of the fire. Any additional acreage burned, he said, may come from what firefighters ignite in controlled burns to keep the fire from spreading.



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