Alaska Team Drone Footage of the McKinley Fire Aug 23 2019

#McKinleyFire Watch this short but very informative drone footage by one of the BLM Alaska Fire Service UAS Drone Operators of the impacted area. We have been talking for the past several days about the high number of fire weakened trees, the mosaic pattern of the burn, the way that thick pockets of black spruce burn at a very high intensity, and how the aspens and birch stands often resist fire or burn less intensley. You’ll see several houses that were saved by firefighting efforts and one structure that was completely destroyed.

Firefighters, in conjunction with local agencies, worked diligently to perform a multitude of tasks at hand in their effort to protect homes and properties in the area, secure the burned area, and ultimately contain the wildfire. Crews continued mopping up and falling hazard trees around structures as they work to stabilize residential areas. Matanuska Electric Association utilized lift trucks, heavy equipment, and fallers to safeguard the power lines from fire-weakened trees and other hazards as they are in the process of reenergizing the main electrical lines. Dozers and crews built containment lines around the fire perimeter, while also dealing with spot fires and flare-ups. Two National Guard Blackhawks (UH60 Helicopters) dropped water to help cool areas of concern.

The McKinley Fire did not increase in size, however active fire behavior was observed with an increase in open flames, tree torching and smoke output. An incredible amount of fire-weakened trees (both burned and unburned) creates a very dangerous working environment for firefighters while also impacting roads, the railroad and power lines. Extremely dry duff layers and a lack of crews is contributing to a slow mop up where fuels are resistant to being extinguished. Three more crews are expected to arrive today. Ample firefighting resources will be available to respond to any increase in fire behavior from the incoming weather predicted for this weekend.

A cold front is expected to move into the fire area this afternoon ushering in clouds, lower temperatures, higher humidity, and a slight chance for light rain Friday evening. By Saturday morning, winds will increase to 15 mph out the north/northeast with party cloudy to mostly sunny skies, highs in the upper 70’s, and minimum humidity around 30 percent. Clouds are forecasted to move into the area Sunday bringing cooler temperatures and the potential for scattered showers. A warming and drying trend will begin Monday through midweek as a high pressure moves into the area.

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