McKinley Fire Update – Coordinated Efforts to Reenergize Powerlines in Process

The Matanuska Electric Association (MEA) is currently in the process of reenergizing the main electrical lines. This is a coordinated effort between MEA and fire personnel. Once the main line is determined to be completely recharged and firefighters are clear, MEA will begin to initiate a north to south pole by pole reenergization of the main line. This process does not include houses. It allows MEA to test if lateral lines are ready to be reenergized. Due to the nature of the deep burns from the fire, laterals may be impacted as there are many lines underground. Those impacted lines will need to be repaired. Once repaired, MEA will coordinate with fire mangers to reenergize lateral lines.

Firefighters continue to 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.

Evacuations: There is a potential for a “Level 2 – Set” Evacuations Notification for residents south of the fire due to the predicted northeast winds of about 15 mph. If a notification is required, a specific geographic area will be defined and announced on Friday. A “Level 2 – Set” Evacuation Notification is for residents to be ready and set to go within five minutes in the case of a “Level 3 – Go” Evacuation Order.

A “Level 3 – Go” 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.

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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