Calm winds helping firefighters battle wildfires in southcentral Alaska

Burned trees after the McKinley Fire burned through the area near Willow, Alaska, on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019. (Maureen Clark/Alaska Division of Forestry via AP)
Calm winds are aiding firefighters as they continue to battle blazes throughout Southcentral.

On Thursday, the McKinley Fire, between Willow and Talkeetna, was 10 percent contained after igniting on Saturday. It was around 3,700 acres.

The fire has destroyed an estimated eighty structures and displaced roughly 400 residents in the evacuation. Assessments are underway to determine how many of the destroyed structures were homes.

Meanwhile, the Caribou Lake Fire, burning 25 miles northeast of Homer, was estimated at 800 acres. Division of Forestry officials say the fire is also 10 percent contained. Responders had issues with winds Wednesday, as the fire crossed over the western fire lines. But crews, with the help of water scoopers and retardant tankers were able to push back Thursday. Forestry officials say there’s no immediate threat to structures in the area.

Authorities reopened the Sterling Highway after closing it late Wednesday afternoon so that helicopter and ground crews could protect local power poles from the Swan Lake Fire. It reopened later in the day.

As of Thursday morning, a little over 300 firefighters were focusing on the west side of the fire to keep it away from nearby Sterling, as well as Cooper Landing towards the south.

Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor Charlie Pierce declared a disaster Wednesday in response to fires in the borough. Mat-Su borough mayor Vern Halter made a similar declaration Monday in response to fires in that area.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Large wildfires in Yukon, northwestern Canada threaten highway, CBC News

Iceland: Better wildfire & agriculture management among recommendations from Arctic Council black carbon expert group, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Arctic summer 2019: record heat, dramatic ice loss and raging wildfires, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: 2019 Arctic wildfire season ‘unprecedented’ say experts, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Study on Swedish wildfires shows how to make forests rise from the ashes, Radio Sweden

United States: Local firefighters first to fight southcentral Alaska wildfiresAlaska Public Media

Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media

For more news from Alaska visit Alaska Public Media.

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