McKinley Fire Morning Update: 8-25-19

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Acreage: 3,368             Containment: 28%         Personnel: 442          Start Date: 8/17/2019

Containment is up to 28 percent. Two-way traffic will resume on Parks Highway at noon today (8/25). The fire information number has been changed to 907-313-9826 and will be staffed from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Firefighter Jason Kohler with Anchorage Fire Department works with the Chugiak Engine crew to mop up hotspots on the line.
Photo Credit: Jess St. Laurent/Chugiak Fire Department/ Alaska DNR

Firefighters made significant progress securing the fire perimeter, connecting sections of containment lines with natural features, and mopping up. Overall containment is up to 28 percent, mostly on the northern portion of the fire.

Through coordinated efforts, fire managers with the McKinley Fire, Alaska State Troopers (AST) and Alaska Dept. of Transportation (DOT) are making adjustments to the traffic restrictions on the Parks Highway between mileposts 76-99, based on current fire conditions.

Starting noon on Sunday, August 25th, all lanes of traffic on the Parks Highway will be open. While there will no longer be a pilot car, please note the current restricted speed limit of 45 mph will remain in effect. Please drive with caution as flaggers will continue to be on the roadway in areas where fire crews and equipment will be entering/exiting the roadway. Drivers are encouraged to turn on headlights to increase visibility. AST will continue to monitor the area with patrols to ensure firefighters and public safety. 

Fire managers and cooperating agencies are reevaluating current evacuations levels based on firefighter and public safety as well as current and expected fire behavior. Factors leading to adjustments in evacuation levels are:

  • Firefighters and emergency personnel have accomplished a great deal of work securing the uncontained wildfire and stabilizing the burned area, however there is active fire in the interior.
  • Strong northeast winds forecasted for this weekend did not impact the fire area.
  • Matanuska Electric Association is nearly finished restoring power to Caswell Lakes.

Conditions in burned areas are very dangerous. Fire burns deeply in extremely dry duff layers and has weakened many trees that continue falling unexpectedly. Ash pits exist and have caused minor burn injuries to firefighters. Ash pits are deep holes in the ground that are hard to see because they are filled with hot ash and embers. These conditions create a very dangerous environment for firefighters and residents remaining in burned areas.

Weather: Another disturbance will enter the area Sunday bringing clouds, cooler conditions, higher humidity and a slight chance of light rain. A warming and drying trend will begin Monday and remain in the area into the week.

Evacuations:  

  • A Level 1 “Ready” Evacuation notification is in effect for 59 residences from milepost 76 to milepost 79. Level 1 – Ready is making sure you have an evacuation kit, family emergency plan, and evacuation plan.  
  • A Level 2 “SET” Evacuation notification is in effect 103 residences from milepost 79 to milepost 81.5. Level 2 – Set is having your items ready and being prepared to leave within minutes of a notification to leave. Stay aware of the latest news and info on the fire.
  • A Level 3 “Go” Evacuation Order remains in effect for all residences along the Parks Highway from milepost 81.5 to milepost 92. Level 3 – Go means leave now, do not delay.

The Red Cross has two emergency shelters in place to help evacuated residents. One is located at the Curtis D. Menard Sports Center in Wasilla and the other is located at the Upper Susitna Senior Center in Talkeetna (Parks Hwy mp 99).

Closures: The Parks Highway is open. 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.A portion of Willow Swamp (Game Management Unit 14A) is closed due to the Deshka Landing Fire. For more information, visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website at https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/.

Air Quality/Smoke: For air quality information related to wildfires, visit https://fires.airfire.org/outlooks/.

Fire Information: 907-313-9826

Email: 2019.mckinley@firenet.gov

Web: http://www.akfireinfo.com/     

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

YouTube: https://tinyurl.com/McKinleyFireYoutube

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