Live McKinley Fire Update Saturday August 31, 2019

Live – #McKinleyFire 9:30pm update with containment increasing to 91% with 550 firefighters working to contain the 3,288 acre fire. This is the “Break it Down” evening session where we answer your questions posted throughout the day. Special guest Stephanie Bishop will address the capabilities of Team Rubicon. Meet the incoming Type 2 IMT from Montana tomorrow at the 3:00pm community meeting at Willow Elementary School. Wood stove use is allowed.

Rain fell last night, the only measurable rain in the month of August. Unfortunately this rain only cools the ground surface. With such dry conditions, heat exists very deep in the ground which is unaffected by light rain. 

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Yesterday the Matanuska Electric Association reenergized all power lines in the fire area. The only residences without power are ones with damaged electrical meters. Firefighters continue to mop up around structures and around the fire perimeter. Mopping up means they meticulously search for hot spots and extinguish them 50 to 100 feet from the fire’s edge to its interior. Crews have been using both handheld and drone-mounted infrared sensors to find these hot spots.

An emergency burn closure remains in effect. All burning, including campfires and charcoal grills, is prohibited in the Matanusaka-Susitna Borough including campfires in fire pits or rings in designated campgrounds. This burn closure exists in the Kenai Peninsula as well.

083119 Evacuation Level Change 2:00 PM
083119 Evacuation Level Change 2:00 PM

The fire area remains a dangerous place with ash pits, fire-damaged trees, and other hazards. 

The current “Level 2 – Set” evacuation for those residences in the area of the Parks Highway from milepost 81.5 to 92 has been reduced, to a “Level 1 – Ready.” The current “Level 1 – Ready” evacuation for those residents in the area of the Parks Highway from milepost 79 to 81.5 has been removed. However, please note it is suggested that anyone living in a Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) area remain always at a “Level 1 – Ready” and be prepared. A “Level 1 – Ready” means making sure your evacuation kits, family emergency communications plan, and your evacuation plan is prepared and that your family is ready.

Even with the change in these evacuation levels, firefighter and public safety remains fire management’s number one priority. The McKinley Fire has not had any significant fire growth, however, is still an active burning fire within the interior that firefighters will be working continuously day and night for weeks to secure. During a wildfire and after the fire has burned through the landscape it continues to pose risks to those firefighters working on it and the public in the area. There are ongoing hazardous situations and dangers that can be difficult to identify after the initial fire front. Use caution and good judgment, ultimately you are responsible for your own safety and well-being. 

For more info, visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website at https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/. 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 www.mea.coop

State of Alaska Homeland Security Disaster Assistance. For individuals and families with damaged primary residence or essential personal property lost in 2019 Mat-Su fires. Register online at ready.alaska.gov or call 907-428-7000

Alaska Red Cross will be distributing emergency relief supplies and providing recovery casework and planning services at the Upper Susitna Senior 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 511.alaska.gov

Matanuska Susitna Borough will accept 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

Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) distributes donations like clothes, shoes, winter gear, bedding,
and food. They have locations in Big Lake, Wasilla, Talkeetna, and Willow. 907-745-5827

Team Rubicon can provide assistance with debris removal and clean up. Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. 360-975-7944

#akwildfire#alaskawildfire#dnrwildfire#msbem

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