The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

Associated Press 

News briefs


Photo courtesy City of Valdez

A man was severely burned Thursday after an explosion on this boat caused serious injuries.

Boat explosion

A 62-year old man is recovering in Seattle after suffering major burns in an explosion on a vessel Thursday.

The public information office of the City of Valdez says the police and fire departments responded to the small boat harbor Thursday morning at 9:41 a.m. following reports of "a minor explosion" aboard a vessel.

"Valdez Fire and Police Dispatch received multiple reports of a minor explosion aboard a vessel in the small boat harbor," the city said Monday. "Responders arrived within minutes and found a 28-foot Hewes Craft with minor damage moored at the harbor's north fuel dock."

The city's emergency responders took charge of burn victim.

"EMS personnel transported the boat operator, a 62-year old male, to Providence Valdez Medical Center with extensive burns to his hands, arms, and head," the city said. "The man was later medivaced directly to Seattle for advanced burn treatment."

There were no other injuries were reported in the incident.

Gasoline fumes are being blamed for the explosion.

"Following a preliminary investigation, Fire Department personnel determined the explosion occurred after the operator fueled the vessel," the city said. "When the operator opened a compartment, an energized heater aboard the boat ignited trapped gasoline vapors causing a flash fire. "

The man is said to be recovering from his injuries.

"The United States Coast Guard also responded and investigated the case," the city said. "The vessel was later removed from the water by harbor staff, cleaned, and stored in the harbor boat yard."

Vote absentee

Absentee voting for the August 16 primary elections began Monday.

In Valdez, voters who need to vote before the election day can cast an absentee ballot at City Hall Monday through Friday during regular business hours.

In the race for House District 9, incumbent Jim Colver (R-Hatcher Pass) is facing stiff competition by George Rauscher, who is being backed by the state's Republican Party.

There are no Democrats running against the Republican held seat.

Voters will also elect nominees for the US Senate seat currently held by incumbent Lisa Murkowski and Alaska's one seat in the US House of Representatives.

The regular primary election day is Tuesday, August 16. The general elections for US Senate and the presidency will be Nov. 8.

Mumps cases

(AP) Fairbanks health officials say two cases of mumps have been confirmed in Fairbanks.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported the cases citing statements from Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and Tanana Valley Clinic. Both cases are associated with overseas travel.

Alaska health officials are working to prevent the virus from spreading and to contact everyone who may have been exposed to the infected patients.

The viral infection's symptoms include swollen salivary glands, fever, jaw pain and muscle aches. It is spread by coughing, sneezing and sharing saliva.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the number of mumps cases in the U.S. can range from a few hundred to a few thousands. The last reported outbreak of mumps in Alaska was in 1995.

Jail closing

(AP) The state of Alaska will close the Palmer Correctional Facility to save about $5.6 million as the state addresses a multibillion-dollar budget deficit.

The Department of Corrections says the 176 minimum security prisoners will be moved first, many to the Point Mackenzie Correctional Farm. Thirteen staff members also will be transferred to the farm, while the other 12 will go to various other facilities in south-central Alaska.

Officials say in a release that a plan to close the medium security side of the Palmer jail will take about four months, ending in late November. The 303 mediums security prisoners will be transferred primarily to the Goose Creek and Wildwood facilities.

The plan calls for about 30 jobs to be reduced, but corrections spokesman Corey Allen-Young says the actual number of job losses might be minimal since staff members targeted for reduction could take open jobs at other prisons.

Denali reopened

Photo courtesy National Park Service

A road in Denali National Park.

(AP) Officials at Alaska's Denali National Park say vehicles are moving on a limited basis through an area hit by a mudslide on the only road into the park.

The slide covered about 100 feet of road with debris about 10 feet deep.

Park staff Sunday closed the road at Mile 67, beyond the Eielson Visitor Center, where most tour buses turn around to return to the park entrance.

However, the mudslide temporarily stranded guests and employees at private lodges in Kantishna (kan-TISH-nah) and visitors who rode to the western end of the park road.

Lodge and visitor buses were able to make it through later Sunday.

Park officials say the road remains closed but limited traffic movement would be allowed.


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