Thursday, Oct. 20 – 10:40 a.m. – Containment on the Moose Creek Fire north of Palmer is now at 70 percent and fire managers are optimistic full containment on the late-season wildfire will be achieved before the end of the weekend.
“If (the weather) stays the way it is right now we’re hoping for full containment by the end of shift Friday,” Incident Commander Phil Blydenburgh with the Alaska Division of Forestry said on Thursday morning. “Snow and rain will definitely speed things up; they’re calling for freezing rain later today.”
The estimated size of the fire remains at 303 acres and there are still approximately 80 personnel working on the fire, though that number is slowly decreasing.
Thanks to a substantial decrease in wind, crews were able to bump up containment by 24 percent on Wednesday, pushing it up from 46 percent to 70 percent. The fire was reported to be 51 percent contained Wednesday night but Blydenburgh said he received more feedback from Division supervisors after that containment figure was plotted to push total containment up to 70 percent.
Firefighters were able to close gaps on the parts of the northern, western and southwestern ern perimeters on Wednesday. Today, crews will be focusing on securing the rest of the north and east flanks before turning their attention to the south and west flanks paralleling the Glenn Highway.
Though the wind has abated, the cold conditions continue to pose problems for crews. Firefighters have had to winterize pumps and engines to keep the plumbing from freezing in the sub-freezing temperatures and any hose lines left out overnight are frozen in the morning. In addition, the cold temperatures have made conditions miserable for firefighters trying to stay warm. Firefighters are going through considerable amounts of coffee and hot chocolate to combat the cold temperatures.
Firefighters are also working to fully contain a smaller fire that started about 10 miles north of the Moose Creek Fire on Monday when a tree was blown into a power line. The King Fire is estimated at 5 acres and is near Mile 68.5 of the Glenn Highway.
A crew of three smokejumpers from the BLM Alaska Fire Service has been working on the fire the past two days and the fire has been placed in monitor status. Firefighters found and extinguished several hot spots on the fire Wednesday and will return today to monitor the fire and search for additional hot spots.