For as much damage, smoke and inconvenience it has caused, the McKinley Fire had only encompassed 3,012 acres by Monday.
Firefighters focused on protecting buildings and infrastructure along the Parks Highway, where an evacuation order is in effect from Milepost 82-91. Anchorage and other parts of Southcentral Alaska experienced smoke-filled air with conditions categorized as unhealthy.
Additional resources were on the scene by Monday evening, with a dozen fire engines from Fairbanks and two crews from the Lower 48 expected to arrive on Tuesday. With the additional resources, the Alaska Type 2 Interagency Incident Management Team will be adding night shifts to patrol subdivisions in the fire area.
The McKinley Fire, which began Saturday near Milepost 91 of the Parks Highway when a tree, pushed by strong north winds, fell onto a power line. The wind fueled the flames, burning along both sides of the Parks Highway for seven miles, and consuming 50 structures in its path.
Traffic is moving slowly with the help of pilot cars along the Parks Highway between Milepost 71-99, with long delays and occasional highway closures. Alaska State Troopers and the Alaska National Guard are assisting with traffic control efforts.
The Alaska Railroad cancelled service from Fairbanks to Denali National Park while it removes trees and other debris from the tracks. Service is expected to resume on Wednesday.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office and Alaska State Troopers are working to account for persons in the evacuation area. If you know of persons who may be unaccounted for, contact the Mat-Su Borough call center at 907-861-8326.
The Interagency Incident Management Team produced this “Break it Down”:
DESHKA LANDING FIRE
The Deshka Landing Fire, which also started Saturday afternoon, is burning about five miles west of the Parks Highway near Mile 68, just south of West Deshka Landing Road and west of Nancy Lake Parkway.
Air support dropped retardants on the western flank of the fire to keep it from reaching a large area of fuel.
Ten smokejumpers focused their attention on removing brush and trees around approximately 45 cabins surrounding Red Shirt Lake, south of the fire, while also plumbing the cabins with pumps, hose and sprinklers to protect them if the fire gains steam and continues south. The smokejumpers utilized a boat to access the cabins.
More help will arrive late Tuesday in the form of three hotshot crews from the Lower 48 that will be flying into Alaska, as well as another helicopter that will be used for water drops and logistical support to transport crews and supplies. Another two crews are expected to arrive from the Lower 48 on Wednesday.