Firefighters are battling a fire to save homes in Palmer on Thursday as high winds in the area pushed the blaze toward subdivisions off Palmer Fishhook Road. About 15 homes in the Cedar Hills subdivision were threatened, and Matanuska Susitna Borough officials ordered the residents to evacuate.
Casey Cook, the Mat Su Borough’s emergency manager, said Thursday evening that firefighters were successful in keeping the flames away from residences. He said the fire was partially contained around 6:00 p.m. Thursday night.
“No actual homes have been reported burnt, but some outlying structures and vehicles have. So right now it looks like no actual homes have been affected. It’s staying in the grasslands, and the lawns and some of the wooded areas,” Cook said.
Low temperatures of about 26 degrees and winds with 35-50 mph gusts caused wind chills that in turn caused injuries to firefighters
“There’s been two firefighter injuries, one from a possible high blood pressure injury and one is suffering from a cold injury. So both of those are being transported to Mat Su Regional and are being treated,” Cook said.
The fire started around 2:00 p.m. Thursday when a truck hauling a trailer flipped on the road near the Glenn Highway, then erupted in flames. The highway was closed for about three hours. When the fires started it reached brush nearby and then, pushed by wind, swept close to residences. The 50 mph winds and the lack of snow in the Valley only added to the rapid spread of the blaze.
An emergency command center was set up at the Palmer Senior Center, and a shelter was set up in a nearby building. The Red Cross supplied cots, coffee and food for evacuees.
Matanuska-Susitna Borough spokeswoman Patty Sullivan said that by about 8 p.m., residents who had evacuated from the Cedar Hills subdivision were being allowed to return. The wildfire burned more than 150 acres north of Palmer.