Fires update: Firefighters make progress, residents on Sterling and Parks highways remain poised to evacuate

Firefighters work to protect a home from the McKinley wildfire near the Parks Highway on Tuesday, August 20, 2019. (Photo by Nat Herz / Alaska Public Media)

The McKinley Fire is 70% contained, according to fire officials. The 3,316-acre blaze is burning between Willow and Talkeetna.

The Matanuska Electric Association is working with fire crews to remove trees damaged in the fire and repair power lines.

A community meeting is scheduled for tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Upper Susitna Senior Center.

Earlier this week, residents were allowed to re-enter their properties when fire officials lowered evacuation levels in the area.

As of Wednesday, August 28:

  • Residents between milepost 81.5 and 92 are on a Level 2 “set” notice to be ready to leave within minutes of a notice.
  • Between mileposts 79 and 81.5, there is a Level 1 “ready” notice, meaning residents should have an evacuation kit, family emergency plan and evacuation plan.

Overnight shelter services are available at the Menard Memorial Sports Center.

The Red Cross is distributing emergency relief supplies at the Upper Susitna Senior Center and at the Menard Memorial Sports Center.

The Parks Highway is open, with reduced speed limits through the fire zone.

The Swan Lake Fire has grown to 160,033 acres.

In Cooper Landing, the community remains on notice to be ready to evacuate if conditions worsen. Firefighters are working to protect Cooper Landing from the blaze.

Helicopters are dropping water on the blaze, in the area that has crossed Resurrection Trail. That’s in an effort to limit the growth toward Cooper Landing.

A community meeting is set to take place at the Cooper Landing School at 6 p.m.

Near Sterling, firefighters are working on the southwestern part of the fire. Officials say it is not posing a threat in that area.

Sterling residents east of Feuding Lane and east of Adkins Road are on notice to be ready for a potential evacuation if the fire moves into the area.

On the Southern Kenai Peninsula, the 904-acre Caribou Lake Fire is 20% contained. Fire officials expect minimal fire growth over the next few days. Currently, no structures are threatened.

The Sterling Highway is open, but officials say travel on the road is not advised. A pilot car is moving vehicles along the road from Watson Lake to the Seward Highway.