Managers executing plan to fight Sockeye Fire; evacuation advisories still in place

Here’s the Alaska Division of Forestry’s latest update on the Sockeye Fire near Willow. The fire is still estimated at 6,500 acres and fire managers flew the fire this morning to get a gauge on fire activity and how far the fire has spread since last night. Heavy smoke over the southern perimeter of the fire south of Willow Creek has made size up difficult and fire managers are working to produce an updated map of the fire. As of late last night, the head of the fire was burning just south of Willow Creek and did not show much movement overnight. The Matanuska-Susitna Borough has set up a call center for people seeking information about the fire. The number at the call center is (907) 861-8326. For a recorded update, call (907) 761-3700. Fire activity died down last night due to cooler temperatures and higher relative humidities but activity is expected to increase today as a result of a Red Flag Warning for strong winds, hot temperatures and low relative humidity. Winds are expected to be out of the north again today, which will likely push the fire south. Fire managers plan to utilize roads and natural barriers to help control the fire. They are focusing on holding the fire at the railroad tracks on the east side of the Parks Highway and the Susitna River serves as a natural barrier on the west side. Evacuation advisories remain in effect from Miles 63 to 78 and extend two miles to the east of the highway and to the Susitna River on the west. Anyone still in that evacuation zone should seriously consider leaving the area for the safety of themselves and firefighters. As of late last night, there were approximately 25 primary structures and 10-20 secondary structures destroyed by the fire north of Kashwitna Lake on the north end of the fire. The Matanuska-Susitna Borough has a team that is assessing structure damage today to get a clearer indication of how many homes and structures were lost. Eight smokejumpers were deployed to remote cabin sights for structure protection and more resources have been ordered from the Lower 48 and Canada and are enroute to the fire. That includes five Type 1 hotshot crews, five Type 2 crews, two air tankers, and multiple helicopters, including three Blackhawk helicopters from the Alaska Air National Guard.

About Alaska Division of Forestry

Alaska Division of Forestry website: http://forestry.alaska.gov/ Mission: The Alaska Division of Forestry proudly serves Alaskans through forest management and wildland fire protection. The Wildland Fire and Aviation Program provides safe, cost-effective and efficient fire protection services and related fire and aviation management activities to protect human life and values on State, private and municipal lands. The wildland fire program cooperates with other wildland fire agencies on a statewide, interagency basis.

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