Card Street Fire crosses Skilak Loop Road

10:00 a.m. Sterling, Alaska – Driven by strong westerly winds, the Card Street Fire left Sterling yesterday and ran past the western side of Skilak Loop Road. The wildfire sent plumes of smoke, miles into the sky and grew by more than 6,000 acres. The Alaska Coordination reports today that the Card Street fire is now the Number 1 priority fire in the nation, with total burned acreage near 9,000 acres.

The Card Street Fire burns towards Skilak Lake, right, on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. The fire grew by 6,000 acres Wednesday night. It is now 9,000 acres. Jason Jordet/Alaska Division of Forestry photo.

The Card Street Fire burns towards Skilak Lake, right, on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. The fire grew by 6,000 acres Wednesday night. It is now 9,000 acres. Jason Jordet/Alaska Division of Forestry photo.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service closed the Loop road and Lower Skilak Campground days ago in anticipation of fire reaching the area. No structures were reported to have been lost. There are agency structures and numerous recreation camping facilities located along the North side of Skilak Lake.

Firefighters continued cooling off the fire near Sterling, which raced through numerous subdivisions Monday and Tuesday, impacting structures in the Kenai Keyes, Feuding Lane and Card Street areas. A total of 11 structures have been burned by the fire. Firefighters and homeowners, with the assistance of air tankers and helicopters, kept many more from burning, since the fire broke out Monday afternoon. There are currently 256 personnel assigned to the incident.

A temporary flight restriction remains over the area as firefighters continue to use heavy air tankers and helicopters carrying retardant and water to slow the fire advance.

Alaska State Troopers are assisting in enforcing a recommended evacuation warning posted throughout the fire area. Homeowners will be allowed into the area once the fires around homes are extinguished.  The public is asked to steer clear of the fire area as firefighters will be assisting homeowners to protect life and property.

An Evacuation Center remains in operation providing shelter, meals and support to the surviving community at the Sterling Community Center. The Sterling Elementary School will begin to host the incoming Type 2 incident management team this afternoon.

Today’s weather will see continued above average high temperatures, low humidity, and dry Westerly winds. The persistent high pressure over Alaska is expected to foster continued active fire behavior throughout the fire area. Smoke hazards will increase downwind as the fire advances. Burning restrictions remain in place for all municipalities and agencies.

The Alaska Division of Forestry, Central Emergency Services, Kenai Peninsula Borough, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Alaska State Troopers are coordinating the fire response to this incident.

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