State forestry still working to contain wildfires near Talkeetna and Willow; no structures lost, evacuations in place, highway open

More firefighters have arrived to help the Alaska Division of Forestry work on containing two wildfires burning about 20 miles apart on opposite sides of the Parks Highway near Willow and Talkeetna.

The McKinley Fire (#738) is burning near Mile 91 on the east side of the Parks Highway while the Deshka Landing Fire (#736) is burning near Mile 68, about 4 miles west of the highway.

Despite cooler overnight temperatures and slightly higher relative humidity, both fires remained active overnight and continue to be resistant control due to extremely dry, windy conditions.

The Parks Highway remains open to one-lane traffic with a pilot car leading vehicles from mileposts 88 to 93.

As of Sunday morning, no structures were reported to have burned in either fire.

Map of the evacuation area for McKinley Fire on Aug. 17, 2019.

Map of the evacuation area for McKinley Fire on Aug. 17, 2019. For a downloadable PDF version of the map go to 8-18-19 McKinley Evac Area.

The McKinley Fire did not move significantly overnight and remains estimated at approximately 150 acres. The fire has burned up to the Parks Highway and firefighters are focusing their efforts on keeping the fire east of the highway. There were several small spot fires reported across the highway late Saturday night but firefighters were able to extinguish them and prevent the fire from getting established on the west side of the highway.

An evacuation notice remains in effect for the area east of the Parks Highway from mileposts 88 to 93.

There are approximately 70 personnel working on the fire with another crew – the Midnight Sun Interagency Hotshot Crew – enroute. Crews will be focusing their efforts today on getting a containment line around the head of the fire from the highway to the eastern flank.

The Deshka Landing Fire (#736) has grown to between 600 and 1,000 acres as of Sunday morning and was moving southeast. Firefighters worked until about 3 a.m. to keep the fire in check. The fire has reached Rolly Creek and fire managers and Alaska State Parks officials have evacuated South Rolly Campground and are in the process of issuing evacuation notices for cabins on Red Shirt Lake.

The fire has spotted across Rolly Creek and firefighters are working to suppress those spot fires to keep the fire north of Rolly Creek. Firefighters are focusing their attention on the eastern flank closest to structures. There are approximately 20 firefighters working on the fire. The Type 2 Initial Attack Tanana Chiefs Crew from Tok should be arriving shortly to help with suppression efforts.

The Nancy Lake Parkway will be closed at mile 2.2 (the winter trailhead) to prevent people from going into the fire area and to allow firefighting crews to bring equipment in. Individuals should be able to hike out from Red Shirt lake on the Red Shirt Lake trail and access parked cars at the Red Shirt Lake trailhead. Vehicles will be able to leave the park at the barricades at mile 2.2.

The Lynx Lake gate at mile 4 of Lynx Lake Road will be unlocked and open to allow individuals to leave the Lynx Lake and Butterfly Lake areas.

Temporary Flight Restrictions are in place over both fires and local pilots should check the status of the TFRs at https://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html.

For more information, contact the Alaska Interagency Fire Information Office at (907)356-5511.

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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