Evacuation orders issued for rural residents near Clear, Minto Lakes wildfires
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Over 1,000 personnel are battling 21 separate fires across the state as the Fourth of July holiday weekend begins.
In all, nearly 1.9 million acres of land have burned this year, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, as Alaska has experienced one of its hottest and driest springs ever, conditions that have continued to plague much of the state.
Five new fires have flared up since Thursday, adding to a list that now includes 160 active fires around Alaska.
The blazes receiving the most attention from fire crews include the Clear Fire in Interior Alaska and the Minto Lakes Fire farther north in the Interior. Both fires were sparked by lightning on June 21.
The Clear Fire is burning approximately six miles from the George Parks Highway and has grown to about 25,822 acres with just 8% containment, according to the coordination center that involves multiple agencies. Officials wrote that the biggest concern lies with the dry weather and heat forecasted for the next few days, as lightning storms with no predicted precipitation are anticipated, along with temperatures in the 80s.
Officials said a red flag warning is in effect in the area through Saturday afternoon. A spokesperson with the Clear Fire Public Information team said there are currently 155 people living in 140 structures that are considered threatened. They said 25 people have evacuated and 130 are sheltering in place.
The Minto Lakes fire, burning in the hills northwest of Fairbanks, currently sits at 22,218 acres with no containment, although 190 firefighting personnel are staffing it.
There are currently 63 structures that are considered threatened, according to a Minto Lakes fire official, most of which are cabins or structures for part-time residents in the Chatanika River corridor. The official said they could be threatened for up to 72 hours.
Friday, the Bureau of Land Management announced that its Eastern Interior Field Office will be closing the Wickersham Dome area due to the Minto Lakes Fire. That area includes such trails as the Wickersham Creek trail, the Trail Creek trail, the Moose Creek trail and the Summit trail, as well as several public-use cabins including Lee’s Cabin, Eleazar’s Cabin, Summit Trail Shelter, Moose Creek Cabin and the Wickersham Creek Trail Shelter.
Fire officials also announced the closure of several recreational areas northeast of Fairbanks, where the Middle Fork Fire is burning at over 1,000 acres. The fire flared up on June 26 and is burning just east of Chena Hot Springs Road, around milepost 45.
The closures include the Red Squirrel Campground near milepost 43, Mile 45.5 Pond, Mile 48 Pond, North Fork Cabin, and Hunt Memorial Cabin.
In Southwest Alaska, the Koktuli River Fire, which flared up June 8 from a lightning strike, has grown to 176,222 acres. The Koktuli River Fire is part of the massive Lime Complex, which now consists of 18 separate fires — eight of them staffed — for a total of 715,595 acres.
Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to reflect that the Minto Lakes Fire is not in Southwest Alaska, but in the Interior.
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