Jan. 25, 2016

Quake-related Natural Gas Leaks Lead to Destruction of Four Houses in Kenai

By Joaqlin Estus, KNBA-Anchorage and Jenny Neyman, KDLL-Soldotna

Anchorage and the Mat-Su valley saw power outages but no injuries, deaths, or serious damage from a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that rattled southcentral Alaska just after 1:30 Sunday morning. The Kenai area was harder hit by the quake, which was centered about 60 miles west of Homer.

The Alaska House and Senate are moving their work from Juneau to Anchorage. Legislative majority leaders made the announcement the same day the Governor warned state workers of massive layoffs if the Legislature doesn't approve a fully-funded budget. A quarter of the state's 16,000 employees work in Juneau. KTOO's Lisa Phu talked with some of them on their lunch hour at the State Office Building in Juneau.


In a forum hosted by the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, two candidates running for Alaska Governor debated local and statewide issues. Gov. Sean Parnell defended his administration when candidate Bill Walker questioned what he's doing about the high cost of energy in Interior Alaska. Parnell said he's totally focused on reducing energy and fuel costs in the Interior and across the state. He cited gas-line negotiations and agreements in which he says he made sure Fairbanks would pay the lowest costs for gas.

A proposed temporary closure of brown bear hunting in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is drawing opposition. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say the population needs to recover after 168 brown bears, including 42 adult females, were killed in the last three years. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says fewer females were taken in the spring hunt thanks to new regulations allowing hunters to harvest brown bears at registered black bear bait stations on lands outside the Refuge, where open areas allow hunters to better identify the sex of the animal.

Unemployment in Alaska's largest city was 4.9% in May, which seems like a good thing. But as APRN's Ann Hillman reports, it's actually a barrier to growth as businesses are having trouble finding qualified workers.

Construction is underway in Galena, a 400-person village recovering from a catastrophic flood last year, when the break-up of an ice jam caused the Yukon River to overflow.

The seismic storm in the far western arm of the Brooks Range continued on Sunday with a 5.7 magnitude earthquake. Seismologists do not yet know the cause of the powerful quake series that began two months ago.

Juneau police are seeking a man who yelled racial slurs during a parade held towards the end of a 3-day Native gathering.