Winds moderate on the McKinley Fire

Calmer winds Monday helped slow the spread of the McKinley Fire (#738) as firefighters continued their efforts to protect buildings and infrastructure.  An evacuation order for the area along the Parks Highway from Mileposts 82 to 91 remains in effect.

The Alaska Type 2 Interagency Incident Management Team assumed management of the fire Monday evening.  The addition of a dozen engines from Fairbanks and two crews from the Lower 48 in the next 24 hours are expected give a good boost to the firefighting effort. With the additional resources, fire managers will be adding a night shift to patrol the subdivisions in the fire area.

The McKinley Fire, which began Saturday near Milepost 91 of the Parks Highway is estimated at 3,012 acres.  Fueled by north winds gusting to 35 miles per hour, it quickly moved south on Sunday, burning along both sides of the Parks Highway corridor for 7 miles. An estimated 50 structures were destroyed by the fire.

The Alaska Department of Public Safety, State Fire Marshal and Alaska State Troopers are working with the Alaska Division of Forestry and Matanuska Susitna Borough to get a better estimate of structures burned and determine how many were residences. The State Fire Marshal’s Office and Alaska State Troopers are working to account for persons in the evacuation area. If you know of persons who may be unaccounted for please contact the Matanuska-Susitna Borough call center at 907-861-8326.

Traffic along the Parks Highway is open, but vehicles are being led by pilot cars between Mileposts 71 to 99.  Motorists should expect long delays and intermittent closures.  Alaska State Troopers and the Alaska National Guard are assisting with traffic control efforts. The Alaska Railroad has been working to remove downed trees and debris from along the tracks and expects to resume full service by Wednesday.          

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