Alaska Wildfire Is Bigger Than Chicago
Area with 1K structures evacuated as blaze spreads
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2014 5:20 AM CDT
A plane sprays over a portion of a wildfire in the Funny River community of Soldotna, Alaska.    (AP Photo/Peninsula Clarion, Rashah McChesney)

(Newser) – A huge fire burning in Alaska's Kenai National Wildlife Refuge has exploded in size and now covers 243 square miles—an area bigger than the city of Chicago. The Funny River fire in the heavily forested reserve south of Anchorage is just 30% contained and authorities have ordered the evacuation of around 1,000 structures, the AP reports. The fire isn't unusually big by Alaska standards, a state spokeswoman says, but it is occurring much earlier in the year than usual; unusually dry conditions, accompanied by high winds, are helping the blaze to spread.

Some 900 people have been evacuated from an area near the city of Soldotna, and it's not clear whether they will have homes to return to when the fire is contained. "Living there, you have in the back of your mind it's one way in and one way out—and it's surrounded by forest," a 71-year-old resident who fled his home in a pickup truck carrying clothes, photos, and a trailer with two ATVs tells the Anchorage Daily News. "It's still not a good feeling when you're deciding what you can take, what you can't take, and what you may leave."

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May 27, 2014 8:43 AM CDT
still smaller than the Peshtigo, Wisconsin fire that happened the same time as Chicago's. The "Peshtigo Fire" covered about 2,400 square miles (1.5 million acres).
May 26, 2014 11:21 AM CDT
Alaska consists of 663,000 square miles of land. Chicago consists of 243 square miles of land. It's a big fire, but for perspective, you could fit Chicago into Alaska almost 3,000 times.
May 26, 2014 10:45 AM CDT
Palin could blow this fire out with all her hot air in her,,,