Live – McKinley Fire 11pm Sunday August 25th Operational Evening Update Addressing Your Questions and Concerns

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The effect of the south winds this evening were that numerous trees fell in the burn area. Crews maintained their situational awareness and kept a safe distance as falling trees and ash pits remain the greatest hazards. Motorists are urged to observe the reduced speeds as two lane traffic has resumed along the Parks Highway. With colder nighttime temperatures, smoke will remain thick heavy inversion layers have been observed. Please drive safely and we appreciate all of your support.

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.

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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.

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