Firefighters on Saturday were continuing work to contain a remote wildfire northwest of Anchorage that is burning a mile from a historic hunting lodge that also serves as a checkpoint on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Approximately 41 firefighters are on the ground mopping up the 96-acre Rainy Pass Fire (#671) that was started by lightning on Tuesday night and prompted the evacuation of 26 people and two dogs from Rainy Pass Lodge, which is about 1 mile northwest of the fire.
Rainy Pass Lodge is approximately 125 miles northwest of Anchorage, just south of the crest of the Alaska Range. It is at Mile 153 of the 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and serves as a checkpoint for the famous dog sled race. In addition to the lodge, there are 10 other cabins and structures on site. Rainy Pass Lodge is Alaska’s oldest hunting lodge. It was founded in 1937 by Bud Branham, a legend among Alaska’s Master Guides.
Two-tenths of an inch of rain fell on the fire Friday and minimal fire activity was observed. The fire was 20 percent contained as of Friday night and fire managers are confident the fire will not grow any larger, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry.
Firefighters had hose laid around 50 percent of the perimeter at the end of shift on Friday and expected to complete a hose lay around the entire fire perimeter today. Once the hose line is complete, firefighters will begin mopping up 30 feet in from the perimeter. A saw line has also been cut around the entire fire perimeter.
Firefighters are focusing their efforts on the northwest flank of the fire, as that area is closest to Rainy Pass Lodge.
A demobilization plan is currently being developed and will likely begin on Sunday. Helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft will be used to retrieve firefighters and supplies, depending on weather conditions.