The 778-acre McHugh fire began July 16, 2016, in Chugach State Park, just south of Anchorage and reached 100% containment on July 24. Fire investigators have determined that an escaped campfire is responsible for the blaze that threatened near-by subdivisions and has closed popular trails in the State Park.
A smaller contingent of Alaska Division of Forestry firefighters will continue to look for hotspots utilizing a helicopter equipped with an infrared camera. Firefighters will focus on stabilizing these areas, with the assistance of helicopter bucket-work. The return of sunny, windy days may cause hot pockets of isolated fuels within the perimeter to continue to burn causing smoke to be visible from the highway. Operations will be based at the McHugh Creek Trailhead that remains closed to public use.
The Temporary Flight Restriction over the fire area will be lifted Friday evening, July 29, 2016. Pilots should still be cautious when flying in the area, as a helicopter will still be working to support the firefighters on the ground.
This will be the final fire update unless any significant fire activity occurs.
State park officials have opened the Rabbit Creek Trail to Rabbit Lake in the Chugach State Park. The trails and adjacent parklands between the Potter Creek and Rainbow trailheads, including all of the McHugh Creek and Rainbow Creek drainages, remain closed to public use. Closures specifically include the Turnagain Arm Trail between Potter and Rainbow, the McHugh Creek Trail and the Rainbow Peak Trail as well as the McHugh Creek wayside, Beluga Point pull out and Rainbow trailhead. State park officials will reopen the trails, once it is safe to do so.
Motorists should continue to use caution when driving the Seward Highway through the fire area. The 35mph speed limit continues through the affected fire area but has been shortened to mile 110 to 112 (McHugh Creek to Beluga Point), pull offs outside that area are now open. Falling rocks and debris are causing intermittent road closures of the Seward Highway due to rain over the burn-affected area. For updated highway information call 511 the State of Alaska Department of Transportation Traveler Information line.
CONTACT: Public Information Officer Sarah Saarloos, (907) 301-0971, email@example.com