McKinley Fire Morning Update: 09-05-19

Firefighters extinguishing hot spots with heavy equipment and water.  Photo Mike McMillan
Firefighters extinguishing hot spots with heavy equipment and water. Photo Mike McMillan

REMINDER: Burn permit suspensions remain in effect!

No burn barrels or open burning is allowed. Details can be found at http://dnr.alaska.gov

Firefighters continue to make good progress mopping-up around structures, extinguishing pockets of burning duff and removing fire weakened hazard trees. The still burning duff poses challenges to firefighters as the active fire is often not visible on the surface and has created deep ash pits. Crews are moving cautiously through the fire area usingwater to help detect ashpits and safely engage in mop up. Handheld devices and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones, equipped with infrared technology are also being utilized to locate areas of heat and aid firefighting efforts. Caswell Lakes Fire Department is also working with the team providing structure firefighters with proper breathing equipment to move house by house triaging and mitigating hazards such as burning household materials that could create dangerous fumes. Once a house is cleared of these burning materials it is moved to “yellow” status where wildland firefighting crews are able to come in and mitigate both ashpits and hazard trees 100 ft around standing structures. Great caution is urged as residents continue to return to the fire area.

A night shift remains in place to patrol for areas of heat and continue mop-up. Extreme caution and a high level of awareness is urged for residents within the fire perimeter and woodcutters along the Parks Highway. Deep pockets of burning organic material called ashpits along with snags pose significant dangers to anyone inside the burn area.

Yesterday, clearing skies and warmer temperatures ended a cool rainy period which saw 0.8” of rainfall in the area the fire. Dry weather and temperatures near 70 are predicted for Thursday and Friday. All power is restored to the area and any residents experiencing issues should call the Matanuska Electric Association. Residences from milepost 81.5 to 92 of the Parks Highway are still in evacuation “Level 1-Ready.” The fire perimeter
in this area is controlled, but the threat of ash pits and falling timber continues to be a hazard. The Parks Highway speed limit remains 45 mph.

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 https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/. A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is still in effect over the McKinley Fire.

Disaster Assistance: There are several agencies with information on disaster assistance; please visit Alaska Wildland Fire Information: https://bit.ly/2lzpyZu for detailed contact information. Disaster Assistance Centers will be open for fire survivors to register for the State of Alaska Individual Assistance.
Locations include:
● Willow United Methodist Church (29286 Parks Hwy) Willow, AK 99688
○ September 4-18 from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m
● Upper Susitna Community Center (16463 Helena Ave), Talkeetna, AK 99676
○ September 4-6 from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., closing at noon on September 6th

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