McKinley Fire Morning Update: 08-29-19

Update – Thursday, August 29, 2019 @ 9:00 a.m.

Norm McDonald, Incident Commander Fire Information: 907-313-9826
Acreage: 3,316  Containment: 71%  Personnel: 571  Start Date: 8/17/2019

Despite unusually warm and dry conditions, firefighters continue making progress containing and securing the McKinley Fire. Most of their efforts have been focused on mop up, hazard tree removal, and helping Matanusaka Electric Association restore power.

Mop up means firefighters meticulously search for hot spots some distance into burned areas (often 50 feet) and extinguish those hot spots. They typically run their bare hands through the ash to find hot spots, but some have been using infrared sensors to make the job safer. They have also been using video footage from drones with infrared cameras to find heat. Hazard tree removal is necessary because trees in the burned area can fall unexpectedly on people, structures, roads or power lines. Their roots are shallow and have been weakened by the fire. Firefighters have been falling these trees using heavy equipment as much as possible.

A firefighter on the McKinley fire tests the ground for ash pits. Photo credit: Renette Saba/AKIMT/DNR Alaska Division of Forestry

All these conditions including ash pits and falling trees make a very dangerous environment for residents returning to their properties.

On Monday of this week “Level 3- Go” evacuation levels were reduced, and residents were able to re-enter their properties. A “Level 2 – Set” evacuation level exists between milepost 81.5 and 92. A “Level 1 – Ready” evacuation level exists between mileposts 79 and 81.5.

Thursday August 29 2019 McKinley Fire Map
Thursday August 29 2019 McKinley Fire Map

Weather: Today should be warm and dry again with some clouds starting to enter the area. Cooler air and more cloud cover should arrive this weekend, and a good chance of rain is forecasted for Monday.

Closures: A portion of Willow Swamp (Game Management Unit 14A) is closed due to the Deshka Landing Fire. For more info, visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website at  A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) exists over the McKinley Fire.

Disaster Assistance Information

Matanuska Electric Association. Members needing to be reconnected can call 907-761-9300 or visit

State of Alaska Homeland Security Disaster Assistance. For individuals and families with damaged primary residences or essential personal property lost in 2019 Mat-Su fires. Register online at

Alaska Red Cross will be distributing emergency relief supplies and providing recovery casework and planning services at the Upper Susitna Senior Center and Curtis D Menard Memorial Sports Center. Relief supplies will also be available Sheep Creek Lodge. To reach a recovery caseworker call 907-764-2407

The Parks Highway remains open through the burned area with a speed limit of 45 mph. Be prepared to stop in this zone where crews and equipment continue working. Road updates available at

Matanuska Susitna Borough Incident Information available at 907-761-3700. The borough will be accepting debris caused by the McKinley and Deshka Landing Fires at no cost at specific locations. For more information the Solid Waste Division can be reached at 907-861-7600

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) can assist with health and safety issues including air quality, drinking water, food safety and sanitation, wastewater, solid waste, and hazardous substances. Reach the ADEC Disaster Coordination Team at 907-269-4198

Categories: AK Fire Info

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