Alaska wildfire has scorched 248 square miles


About 300 rural Alaskans remained under evacuation orders Monday after a wildfire south of Anchorage burned a swath of land bigger than Chicago.

The so-called Funny River Fire has yet to hurt anybody or destroy any buildings on the Kenai Peninula since it started May 19, despite threatening settlements and subdivisions on the outskirts of Soldotna, population 4,359, officials said.

Although the blaze has scorched 248 square miles — the city of Chicago is 227 square miles — the conflagration is not all that unusual for lightly populated Alaska, one official said. It’s just a little closer to residential areas than usual, said Bernie Pineda, a spokesman for the firefighting response.

The fire is 30 percent contained. Cooler weather and rains early Tuesday were expected to slow the advance of the fire, which has been deemed human-caused.