Wildfire near Delta Junction grows to 22.5 square miles; staffing up to 279 and growing

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Wildfire officials planned to ramp up the response to a fire that's burning in a military training area near Delta Junction.

The 100 Mile Creek Fire in the Donnelly Training Area has been burning for about a month. The fire over the weekend grew from 14.7 square miles to 22.5 square miles, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1xxPbWK) reported.

Warmer temperatures and a change in wind were behind the expanded burning acreage, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center. Winds from the south pushed the fire northwest into a dry channel of a creek.

Mel Slater, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Alaska Fire Service, said lower relative humidity over the weekend combined with the new wind patterns helped spread flames.

"The answer probably won't ever be totally clear," Slater said. "A few days ago, it was wetter out there. But the temperatures rose, so that means the fuels probably dried out a lot quicker."

By Monday, lighter winds and higher humidity let crews build more direct lines and moderated fire activity, according to the coordination center

The fire started May 13. A spot fire from the 88.5-square-mile Oklahoma Range prescribed-burn area crossed a boundary and ignited forest.

As of Monday morning, 290 people were working on the fire and staffing was expected to increase.

Two fire crews joined the containment effort Saturday. Ground crews were assisted by four retardant tankers, two CL-215 water scooper aircraft and four helicopters.

Five more fire crews were expected Monday.

Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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