Fire Burns 15,000 Acres in Alaska

Embers from a burn barrel ignited a fire that spread to 15,000 acres Friday, burning at least one building and forcing people to evacuate homes along a 13-mile stretch of highway, officials said.

Strong wind pushed the flames along the Parks Highway toward the city of Nenana, a river and rail transportation hub of 550 people about 55 miles southwest of Fairbanks. The fire was within a mile of Nenana, with the Tanana River between the city and the flames.

All the homes along the stretch of highway were evacuated Thursday night, and aircraft were dropping fire retardant on the blaze, said Pete Buist, fire information officer for the Alaska Division of Forestry. He didn't know how many homes were evacuated but said six or seven were in the most danger.

The fire started Wednesday at a home near Anderson, and wind gusting up to 25 mph spread it north. The highway was closed on Thursday as the fire spread.

Smoke from the fire poured into Nenana and even reached Fairbanks, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.