McKinley Fire has destroyed an estimated 80 structures
Fire managers met with community members at Willow Elementary School to describe firefighting efforts for the McKinley Fire burning along the Parks Highway.
Managers described the current status of the fire, which has destroyed an estimated 80 structures, and is burning 4,349 acres along the Parks Highway from Mileposts 82 to 91.
They described unusually dangerous fire conditions on Saturday and Sunday, when the fire started and spread. Normally, strong north winds tend to subside during the late summer, but gusty winds spread the flames throughout Sunday.
On Saturday, Ken Barkley, the Emergency Services Director for the Mat-Su Borough said that he responded to twelve wildfires in eight hours - the McKinley Fire was the fourth of those. Additionally, three property fires were called in.
The Mat-Su Borough reminded residents that property assessors can reassess property that was damaged or destroyed to reduce taxable value. The reductions are prorated between the time of the assessment and December.
Managers tamped down fears of looters and said that the National Guard had stepped in to man the traffic checkpoints, allowing the Alaska State Troopers to continue doing law enforcement patrols along the highway and on side streets. While they said that they are hoping to start giving out day permits for property owners to be able to check on their properties, that won't happen "any time soon."
They also reminded residents of the area that all burn permits have been suspended, which includes the use of burn barrels.