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21st July 2011

12:25pm: IN THE NEWS - flood, fire, fish and bears
[Thursday, July 21, 2011]
UPDATE - Flood warning for Mendenhall Lake and river extended
A flood warning for Mendenhall Lake and the Mendenhall River is in effect now through 10 tonight.

It was originally scheduled to end at Noon but was extended late this morning by the National Weather Service.

As of about 11:15 this morning, the water level in the river is at 13.07 feet and still rising. Minor flood stage is 11.5 feet while moderate flood stage is 12.5 feet.

The lake level dropped from 10.90 at that time to 10.75 as of about 1:15. Minor flood stage is 9 feet and moderate flood stage is 10 feet.

In addition, the weather service says they're told the flow of the water falls at Mendenhall Glacier has slowed.

The source of the flooding is unknown at last report.

Meteorologist Edward Liske at the Juneau Forecast Office says the best they can guess is that it's a lake somewhere that's been trapped by the Mendenhall Glacier.

He says they really don't know which lake it is, where it is or how big it is.

A weather service official has boarded a flight in an attempt to pinpoint the source.

View Drive homes evacuated
View Drive is about a foot under water at one point, according to CBJ Manager Rod Swope.

He says they went house to house and advised people to vacate their home since they could be isolated.

Swope says all but one left.

Eight to 10 residences in total are impacted. He says a couple of residences are flooded.

The power in the area was also turned off. There were a couple of transformers under water and Alaska Electric, Light and Power shut them off.

The City and Borough of Juneau is asking residents to stay away from the banks of the Mendenhall River during flooding.

City Manager Rod Swope says the banks are unstable and could give way easily.

He advises avoiding getting close to the river. "If they get into that water, there's not much of a chance we're going to be able to save them," he says.

He says Capital City Fire Rescue has its Swift River Rescue crew ready in case they're needed.

Wildfire out the road doused
A wildfire was reported in the Juneau area Wednesday.

Captain Ed Quinto of Capital City Fire Rescue says they were contacted shortly after 10 a.m about smoke in the area of Tee Harbor.

He says they found what he described as a small forest fire in the area of the Breadline Bluff Trail on the beach.

Captain Quinto says they assisted the Forest Service in putting the fire out.

There's no word on the probable cause of the fire.

Female bear trapped in downtown Juneau, another trapped last week
A female black bear was trapped in downtown Juneau near West 12th street Wednesday morning.

Area management biologist Ryan Scott of state fish and game said that they had received reports of a mother and cub causing disturbances in the area and attempted to catch the bears using a trap but ended up snaring the wrong bear. Ryan said they trapped a younger female black-bear.

Scott said the female and the cub that they were hoping to catch up to has been spending a good deal of time in the downtown area. He said the mother has gone into houses and garages, eliciting several complaints.

The Department of Fish and Game has been working hard to catch up to her using darts and traps, but Scott said it's hard to be selective when using bear traps.

Scott said the female bear they did trap is of breeding age and will be relocated out of town and stated that they will continue looking for the bear that they had been receiving complaints about and that is at the top of their priority list.

He says they haven't decided yet when and where they'll put out another trap.

Scott says they trapped another bear last week on Gastineau Avenue. He says the young female weighed about 100 pounds.
The biologist says she was definitely one that generated a lot of activity and complaints in the area.

She was sent to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to participate in a hibernation study. The other choices were to euthanize her or transport her out of town. Scott says they felt the best use of the bear was the research study in Fairbanks.

Scott says they have another trap set up out the road between Lena Point and Tee Harbor.

Truck driver lands large halibut
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A truck driver from New Mexico on her first fishing trip landed a big halibut that will likely win the Valdez Halibut Derby.

Annette Gutierrez and her fiance took a trip to Valdez to go halibut fishing with a friend who has his own boat.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner says Gutierrez caught a 335.7-pound halibut on July 2 that likely will win her the $15,000 top prize.

The fish was 87 1/2 inches long. That is almost two feet taller than the 5-foot, 6-inch Gutierrez. It is 142.3 pounds bigger than the fish it displaced atop the leader board.

Gutierrez lives in Gila, N.M., and travels to Fairbanks to work for Osborne Construction in the summer.
10:32pm: Flood update on glacier and river
UPDATE - Flood warning for Mendenhall Lake and river extended
A flood warning for Mendenhall Lake and the Mendenhall River is in effect now through 10 tonight.

It was originally scheduled to end at Noon but was extended late this morning by the National Weather Service.

According to the National Weather Service, as of about 1:00 this afternoon, the water level in the river is at 12.90 feet and falling. Minor flood stage is 11.5 feet while moderate flood stage is 12.5 feet.

The lake level dropped from 10.90 at that time to 9.66 feet as of after 3:00 P.M.. Minor flood stage is 9 feet and moderate flood stage is 10 feet.

In addition, the weather service says they're told the flow of the water falls at Mendenhall Glacier has slowed.

Tom Mattice, Emergency Management Officer for the City and Borough of Juneau said the source of the flooding was discovered during an air-trip over the ice fields.

Mattice said that the lower basin near Suicide Falls had been dammed up and the basin had completely flooded based on the high water lines.

He said the water has fallen noticeably but the glacier may have levitated and then sank 180 feet. (photo by Jeanne Josephson)

According to Mattice, all accounts indicate that water levels are falling in both the river and the lake.

An update from the City Clerk's office has indicated that View Drive and the Brotherhood Bridge Trial, both of which had been closed due to the flooding, have been re-opened as flood waters recede. City Manager Rod Swope said several residents near View Dr. had been asked to vacate their homes to avoid being isolated.

The City and Borough of Juneau is asking residents to stay away from the banks of the Mendenhall River during flooding.

Swope says the banks are unstable and could give way easily.

He advises avoiding getting close to the river. "If they get into that water, there's not much of a chance we're going to be able to save them," he says.

He says Capital City Fire Rescue has its Swift River Rescue crew ready in case they're needed.
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