McKinley Fire: Managers Reduce Speed Zone Along Parks Highway and Evacuation Levels Dropped from “1 Ready” to Zero

Crews remain working along the Parks Highway. Please drive with caution at all times from milepost 83-91. Double fines are still in effect for speeding between milepost 87 and 91. Evacuation levels are zero for all areas impacted by the McKinley Fire. Even with recent heavier rains, deep ash pits will remain throughout the fall and winter as an ongoing hazard to be avoided by everyone – homeowners, children, pets and the public. Fire weakened trees also will continue to fall unexpectedly and often quietly throughout the fall and winter. As firefighters say on a daily basis, “look up, look down, look all around” and be aware that the fire area is not a secure and safe place.

52 primary residences, 3 commercial structures and 84 outbuildings were destroyed in the fire by the evening of Aug. 18 and into the morning. The Alaska Department of Public Safety, State Fire Marshal, and Alaska State Troopers have been working with the Alaska Division of Forestry and Matanuska-Susitna Borough to assist the communities in dealing with effects of the fire. Evacuation levels are zero for all impacted areas, and the reduced speed zone has been shortened to include milepost 87 to 91 (Yancey Road).

Crews Remain Working Along Parks Highway
Crews remain working along parks highway. Please drive with caution at all times from milepost 83-91. Photo credit: PIO Kale Casey, Alaska IMT/Alaska DNR

Many of the fire personnel remaining on the incident responded to the 2015 Sockeye Fire. Because these crews live and work in the area, they have recent experience that will help guide their work. One of the main “watch out” situations is for alignments of downed fuels or stacked berms that could create what firefighters call “holdovers”. In a burn area this large and with the burn so deep, to a certain degree a few “holdovers” of hidden heat in berms or ash pits are inevitable. The more work that is completed now, the fewer issues firefighters will have to address next spring.

McKinley Fire Map September 13-19 2019. There has been no change to the fire perimeter for nearly two weeks as crews continue suppression repair work around homes, along right of ways and the Parks Highway.
McKinley Fire Map September 13-19 2019. There has been no change to the fire perimeter for nearly two weeks as crews continue suppression repair work around homes, along right of ways and the Parks Highway.

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 Parks Highway speed limit remains 45 mph through the fire vicinity.

Watch Incident Commander trainee Bryan Quimby deliver Leader’s Intent message to all fire personnel with the goal of continuing to “finish strong”. This is a part of our transparency campaign, designed to bring you into the boots of a firefighter on the front lines. Video credit: PIO Kale Casey/Alaska IMT/Alaska DNR

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.  

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. 

The Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the McKinley Fire has been lifted.

Video credit: PIO Kale Casey/Alaska IMT/Alaska DOF

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