McKinley Fire AM Update 8/22/19; Firefighters Make Significant Progress Building Direct Containment Lines

Update – Thursday, August 22, 2019 @ 9:00 a.m.

Norm McDonald, Incident Commander

Fire Information: 907-761-6233  Email: 2019_akmss_mckinley@firenet.gov

Web: www.akfireinfo.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AK.Forestry/

Acreage: 3,752     Containment: 10%     Personnel: 273    

Start Date: 8/17/2019     Cause: Unknown

Firefighters Make Significant Progress Building Direct Containment Lines

Light winds and more favorable weather allowed firefighters to complete their second consecutive day of direct attack along the fire perimeter. A combination of dozers and crews worked to secure structures and the uncontained fire’s edge while helicopters supported their efforts with water drops. Structure protection and assessment work continues. Additional crews and engines continue to arrive. Acreage reduction was due to the ability to do more accurate mapping.

Air and ground resources responded promptly to an estimated 20-acre spot fire on the east side of Parks Highway near Milepost 84 to limit further growth. This spot fire is expected to be completely lined today.

Hazard trees near the fireline.

Along the west flank, firefighters worked to protect structures using a combination of dozer line, handline, and the Susitna River to prevent the fire from spreading. The east flank containment lines and swampy areas held the fire. One area near Sheep Creek flared up, but the fire remains west of the creek. Crews are installing a system of pumps and hoses to spray water on the fire. Extremely dry fuels and fire-weakened trees with shallow root systems make mop up dangerous and labor intensive. Trees are falling and flaring up where many fire personnel are working.

Firefighters will focus on mopping up around structures and reinforcing containment lines as they prepare for increased winds from a cold front forecasted to pass through the fire area this weekend. Northeast winds of about 15 mph are predicted to accompany this weekend’s frontal passage and will challenge firefighters. However, lower temperatures and humidity higher with a chance for light, scattered precipitation should help the firefighting effort. Fire danger remains very high for the Mat-Su Valley.

McKinley Fire Map 8-22-19

Evacuations: A level 3 Evacuation Order remains in effect for all residences along the Parks Highway from Milepost 82 to Milepost 92. Residents and visitors are not allowed in the evacuation area until damage assessments are completed and fire managers know it is safe for the public to enter. Alaska National Guard soldiers are staffing traffic control points and Alaska State Troopers are patrolling the evacuated areas 24 hours per day to provide a safe working environment for emergency responders, safe passage through the fire area, and to deter burglary, theft, and other crimes from occurring. 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 Evacuation Accountability Call Center at 907-861-8326.

Crews cut hazard trees near edge of fireline.

Closures: The Parks Highway remains open. Motorists are warned to expect long delays and intermittent closures depending upon fire activity. As of 8:00 a.m. on 8/22/19, pilot cars are leading traffic between Mileposts 76 to 99. Matanuska Electric Association personnel continue clearing fire-weakened trees near power lines.The Alaska Railroad has been working to clear downed trees and debris from along the tracks. Limited railroad service resumed Wednesday. A Temporary Flight Restriction is in place over the fire area from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. For further information, please visit https://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_9_4119.html.

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