McHugh Fire pushes up against Seward Highway; traffic down to one lane

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 .

Traffic on the Seward Highway has been reduced to one lane with a pilot car due to heavy smoke and fire activity near the road. Lori Wiertsema/Alaska Division of Forestry

Traffic on the Seward Highway has been reduced to one lane with a pilot car due to heavy smoke and fire activity near the road. Lori Wiertsema/Alaska Division of Forestry

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.

Smoke rises from the 200-acre McHugh Fire south of Anchorage along the Seward Highway on Monday night. Alaska Division of Forestry photo

Smoke rises from the 200-acre McHugh Fire south of Anchorage along the Seward Highway on Monday night. Alaska Division of Forestry photo

Traffic moves along the Seward Highway early Monday morning. The northbound lane of the highway was closed due to heavy smoke and fire activity from the 200-acre McHugh Fire at approximately 5 a.m. Monday. Photo by Michelle Weston

Traffic moves along the Seward Highway early Monday morning. The northbound lane of the highway was closed due to heavy smoke and fire activity from the 200-acre McHugh Fire at approximately 5 a.m. Monday. Photo by Michelle Weston

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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