Rainy Pass Fire prompts evacuations overnight
A remote wildfire northwest of Anchorage late Tuesday night prompted the evacuation of 26 people from a historic hunting lodge that also serves as a checkpoint on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
The Alaska Division of Forestry says
was reported at 8:11 p.m. after a lightning strike started the fire near Rainy Pass Lodge. As of Wednesday morning, the fire had grown to an estimated 120 acres and was receiving light rain.
The evacuees, including two dogs, were first transported to Skwentna, a community of about 50 people about 73 air miles northwest of Anchorage. From there, they were transported to JBER on a CH-47 Chinook helicopter.
The Red Cross of Alaska says it set up an emergency overnight shelter Tuesday to provide comfort, support, meals and a safe place to sleep for 12 individuals who were evacuated near Rainy Pass Lodge.
The lodge is situated in a remote area, approximately 125 air miles northwest of Anchorage.
Red Cross volunteers established the overnight emergency shelter at the American Red Cross of Alaska Region Headquarters in Anchorage.
DOF says because of the rapid spread of the fire and proximity to the lodge, 26 employees and guests were evacuated from the lodge by a Blackhawk helicopter from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center in Anchorage.
The evacuees were flown to Anchorage.
Twenty horses at the lodge were released for their safety and are currently on site.
To put the fire into perspective, it is at Mile 153 of the 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. In addition to the lodge, there are 10 other cabins and structures on site.