National

Alaska fire threatens Old Believer villages

Residents of two Russian Old Believer villages were under evacuation orders Wednesday night as an explosively expanding wildfire east of Homer crept menacingly closer.

The fire began the day at about 70 acres and nearly half contained. But as the sun went down in the smoky sky, the blaze was estimated at more than 700 acres and burning mostly out of control. Firefighters had given up trying to stop it, instead focusing their efforts on evacuating people and protecting homes.

The fire was threatening 20 homes about 15 miles northeast of Homer, Forestry spokesman John See said. The fire could grow to more than 1,000 acres overnight and endanger another 30 homes, he said.

One structure had been confirmed lost late Wednesday, but no injuries had been reported, said Sharon Roesch, fire prevention officer with the Forestry Department.

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