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Alaskan IT Shops Safe From Volcanic Ash -- For Now

Alaska's Mount Redoubt volcano erupted again Monday night, but the potentially destructive ash fall appears to be diminishing, according to solution providers in the southern Alaska region.

The latest eruption from Mount Redoubt, a 10,200 foot high volcano located about 110 miles southwest of Anchorage, spewed a cloud 60,000 feet above sea level. However, the Alaska Volcano Observatory says no additional ash fall has occurred since then, and the National Weather Service has retired its ash fall advisory for the region.

Mark Chryson, owner of Compu Doc/Web Alaska, a solution provider based in Wasilla, about 40 miles northeast of Anchorage, began smelling smoke in the air Monday night around 7 p.m., but says strong easterly winds have prevented ash from falling in the region.

However, Chryson, who was working at a local Kinkos shop when Mount Redoubt last erupted in 1989, is well acquainted with the destructive potential of volcanic ash.

"It basically shut us completely down," he said. "The ash can get into buildings and damage the system boards of PCs, copiers, televisions, and radios."

Kris Tibbets, manager of Computer Renaissance Wasilla, has heard reports of ash falling in the outskirts of Wasilla, but isn't planning on going beyond basic precautions. "The biggest thing we're going to do is turn off the heating and cooling systems and shut down all the computers," he said.

After its last eruption in December 1989, Mount Redoubt continued to be active for six months afterwards, causing $160 million in damage in what ranks as the second most costly volcanic eruption in U.S. history.

Scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory believe it's possible that this eruption could follow the same pattern as the 1989 event, which could mean that southern Alaska VARs may not be out of the woods yet.

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