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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Firefighters Hope For Rain, Calm Air

Compiled From Wire Services

Calm and clammy air Friday helped fire crews fight a huge wildfire to a standstill on Friday, but a second blaze sprang up and spread rapidly in another forest 100 miles south.

About 1,200 firefighters were dumping water and hacking down trees and scrub growth to encircle the 65-square-mile fire in the Matanuska Valley 50 miles of Anchorage, which destroyed 298 houses and buildings, one-third of those in the fire’s path.

State fire investigator Mark Barker said the fire, which blew up in every direction around the rural towns of Big Lake and Houston, acted “a lot like a tornado: one house is there and the other isn’t.”

With the larger fire in check, about 100 fresh reinforcements from California were diverted to the new blaze, which spread to 2,500 acres in its first day Friday in an unpopulated area of the Kenai Peninsula along the Gulf of Alaska.

Rising humidity, still air and forecasts of rain this weekend gave firefighters hope they could contain it in a few days.

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