ANCHORAGE — The McHugh Creek Fire is burning in steep rocky terrain that’s only about a mile from nearby neighborhoods.

Above Potter Marsh, residents of the Southpointe Ridge Drive subdivision are waiting to hear whether they’ll have to evacuate their homes. Firefighters estimate the flames are about a mile from the area, which is notorious for high winds.

From her back porch, Valerie Buckendorf watched the traffic back up along the Seward Highway and smoke billow closer to her house.

“I feel pretty nervous,” she said. “It can really howl up here. We’ve had some pretty wicked windstorms.”

If the winds change direction, firefighters said Potter Valley neighborhoods — including Southpointe Ridge — could be among the first evacuated.

“I’m packing and letting my kids know we may have to leave, trying not to panic,” Buckendorf said.

On the other side of the fire, flames inch closer to Rainbow Valley Road. The fire is also just over a mile away from the nearest neighborhood there, where residents are on standby to evacuate.

Max Ibarguen worked to protect his father’s home on Tuesday by spraying it down with water.

“I don’t remember the last time it rained, but I know it was a while back and this siding tends to dry out really quick,” Ibarguen said.

He and his neighbors said they aren’t too worried yet. Firefighters have been working with them and said it’s crucial to be prepared should the winds shift.

“It’s hugely important,” said forester Sean Schroeder. “Those just-in-case moments are when we have tragedies that happen. This is probably the most important work.”

As of 9 p.m. on Tuesday, no evacuations had been ordered.

“I will continue to hope for the best and say prayers for our fire fighters,” Buckendorf said.

Firefighters said Mother Nature will decide what happens next.

KTVA 11’s Shannon Ballard can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.