Alaska Volcano Keeps Blowing

EAGLE RIVER, Alaska (AP) - Alaska's Mount Redoubt continued its
volcanic explosions Friday, sending ash clouds as high as 50,000
feet above sea level and prompting drivers to head to the auto
parts store for new air filters.

The National Weather Service said most of the ash was expected
to fall to the north, but trace amounts of ash from eruptions on
two Friday and smaller ones overnight could fall on Anchorage
itself.

Since the series of eruptions began Sunday night, the volcano
has had several bursts. One on Thursday sent ash 65,000 feet high.
The last time the volcano had erupted was during a four-month
period in late 1989 and early 1990.

The volcano exploded two more times later Friday, sending ash
clouds 40,000 and 51,000 feet high.

Two mudflows produced by the volcano Friday were moving down a
slough and tributary toward the Drift River Terminal, where 6.2
million gallons of oil is stored, said Chris Waythomas, a geologist
with the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

A concrete-reinforced dike is holding the mud back and
protecting the terminal's oil storage tanks from damage.

The Coast Guard said the plan was to keep the oil in the tanks
instead of draining it.

"The oil is safe where it is at right now," said Coast Guard
Cmdr. Joseph Losciuto.

Closer to Anchorage, the concern Friday was ash, a fear that
proved mostly unfounded. There were no immediate reports of ash
falling in the city.

Airborne volcanic ash, even in relatively small amounts, can
damage airplane and automobile engines. Because of the eruptions,
Alaska Airlines, the state's largest carrier, said there were
limited flights in and out of Anchorage.

Cissy Matson, manager for the NAPA Auto Parts store in suburban
Eagle River, said dozens of people had come in Thursday asking
about air filters and it looked like it would be another busy day
Friday.

Early Friday morning, Matson was outside the store giving Becki
Ezzell a quick lesson on where to put the new air filter she was
buying for her 20-year-old daughter's car.

"I know that ash chokes off the air to the engine and it just
stops. That would be very scary for her," Ezzell said.

Ezzell had another worry, too: The eruption had stranded her
husband at the Minneapolis airport. "They were just getting on the
plane and it blew," Ezzell said. "He thought he was on his way
home."

Still, Ezzell, who has lived in Alaska since 1969, said she's
seen far worse when it comes to volcanoes exploding and spewing
ash.

"I'm not going to make a big to-do about a little ash," she
said.


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