Anchorage – July 19, 8:45 a.m. – Fire activity on the McHugh Fire burning south of Anchorage along the Seward Highway south of Anchorage picked up significantly late Monday night and made a push toward the Seward Highway early Tuesday morning.
The fire bumped up against the highway between miles 108 and 113 at approximately 4 a.m. and the northbound lane of the Seward Highway was closed at around 5 a.m. A pilot car from the Department of Transportation is leading traffic through dense smoke in the one-lane section of road. The road remains open at this time but fire managers are anticipating that debris could be falling onto the road shortly and the road could be closed .
A task force from the Anchorage Fire Department is on scene assisting the Alaska Division of Forestry to evaluate potential evacuations of the Rainbow Valley Subdivision approximately 1.7 miles to the north of the fire and the Potter Creek Subdivision approximately 2.5 miles to the south. The Pioneer Peak and Chena hotshot crews and a U.S. Forest crew have responded to the Rainbow Valley Subdivision to begin taking structure protection measures and smokejumpers from the BLM Alaska Fire Service are doing assessments in the Potter Creek Subdivision.
The fire is now estimated at 200 acres and the Division of Forestry has approximately 100 personnel battling the blaze.
The Type 2 incident management team that was managing the Tok River Fire south of Tok has been ordered to take over command of the McHugh Fire on Wednesday morning and will be enroute to the fire today. Five hotshot crews from the Lower 48 are also being ordered to assist with suppression efforts.
Activity on the fire initially picked up around 5 p.m. Monday when the fire made a push up the McHugh Creek drainage with intermittent torching, producing several spot fire over the retardant line over one-half mile away. Crews used water drops from helicopters to assist holding the line. When the smoke cleared aerial resources found a slop over within 1.7 miles of the Rainbow Valley Subdivision to the north.