Evacuation orders expanded around Clear Fire
ANDERSON, Alaska (KTUU) - Firefighting officials working at the site of the Clear Fire were unable to say how many structures have been affected by the wildfire raging in Interior Alaska, but said there has been damage.
The wildfire, which grew to 65,884 acres overnight, is now considered 12% contained, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center. On Friday, Denali Borough officials gave the “go” order to evacuate to all properties accessed by roads, trails and driveways on the west side of the Parks Highway between mileposts 269 and 275, including all residents along Kobe Road and all cabins along the Teklanika River within two miles of the fire.
Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker said on Friday that the blaze has come within approximately a half-mile of the Parks Highway, which is still open.
“There are about 500 firefighters on this fire right now, and it didn’t get close to closing the highway,” Walker said. “We feel pretty good at this time about holding that line.”
Those in the “set” area are all residents East of the Nenana River between mileposts 269 and 298, including the cities of Clear Anderson, and Clear Space Force Station, all cabins along the Teklanika River between two and five miles from the fire perimeter, and all residents west of the Nenana River between 264-269.
All areas west of the Parks Highway between mileposts 298-301 are in the “ready” area.
Walker said the fire pushed towards the Nenana River late Thursday, forcing officials to make the call to expand the “go” order to evacuate to residents on the other side of the river, which is connected by the Jack Coghill Bridge to the Interior on the Parks Highway.
“One big thing I want people to know is we’re working hard on it. We’re working together on it. And we’re going to prevail,” Walker said. “We were gonna win the fight, but we have lost a couple battles along the way.”
Many homes and structures are accessed from Kobe Road, located just past mile marker 275 of the Parks Highway. According to reporting by the Associated Press, an official said it could be a couple of days before fire managers can assess the damage and determine if any structures were lost.
Alaska Division of Forestry and Fire Protection Information Officer Sam Harrel said that the division had yet to determine how many homes had been damaged by the fire in the Kobe Ag subdivision.
“The fire has moved through the area and damage has occurred, we really don’t know to what degree — that is because well we’re still fighting fire in the area trying to make it safe for the firefighters — and then eventually for the borough to be able to assess what’s going on,” Harrel said. “We’re still under some very hot dry conditions here in the Interior and it’s going to be a beautiful weekend and a lot of people are going to be out enjoying it. Please, please, please, be safe in all of your outdoor activities.”
Additionally, the Denali National Park and Preserve noted that a new, 60-acre fire had been discovered last night within the park. According to a press release, the Starr Fire was cause by lightning and is burning on the east side of the Muddy River in the North Preserve portion of the park. The fire is located approximately 40 miles northwest of Kantishna, and is being worked by eight smokejumpers. The Starr Fire is part of the Paradise Complex of fires, and a Type 3 Incident Management team has taken charge of the complex.
According to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, seven new wildfires flared up since Thursday, adding to the total of 243 active fires. Of those, 12 are staffed with approximately 486 personnel. In all, over 2,467,005 acres have burned across the state this year.
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