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Baked Alaska: Record heat stretch
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The temperature hit 80 degrees for the record 36th time this summer on Thursday in Fairbanks, and, only 1.44 inches of rain has fallen in Alaska's second-largest city since June 1, according to the National Weather Service.

That's 2.25 inches below normal and makes this summer the fourth-driest on record, meteorologist Ed Plumb told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner .

There is no precipitation in the forecast for the next week.

"We're not getting any August weather any time soon," Plumb said.

August is normally the wettest month of the summer, but the Alaska fire season still is cooking.

"We've got our hands full," said Jim Schwarber, a fire information officer for the state Division of Forestry.

"The thing that really drives fire in addition to wind is dry fuels," Schwarber said. "The fuel indices we monitor are all getting up into the extreme range in the Yukon Flats and eastern Tanana Valley."

"We're ripe to have additional fire growth over next few days," he said.

Gusting 30 to 40 mph Chinook winds in the central and eastern Alaska Range, combined with the hot, dry conditions have fanned fires back to life near Birch Creek, Tok, Delta Junction, Healy and Venetie.

Fairbanks residents could smell smoke Thursday.

The Alaska Fire Service and state Division of Forestry are sending send firefighters to fires that were rekindled near Circle Hot Springs and Delta Junction.

A fire that was started by lightning July 3 has burned 17 square miles about three miles northwest of Circle Hot Springs. Fire engines from the Division of Forestry were requested to patrol the Steese Highway in the vicinity of the fire.

A fire on military land near Delta Junction has burned two square miles.

"It started at the end of May, but there hadn't been any real activity other than minor smokes over the summer," said fire information officer Mel Slater with the Alaska Fire Service. On Wednesday "a gust of wind picked it up and there was a nice, big plume of smoke visible from Delta Junction."

The 136 square-mile fire east of Fairbanks that force the evacuation last month of some residents near the community of Two Rivers also is still smoldering.