• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 10s

Wildfires continue to scorch Southcentral, Interior Alaska

By KTVA CBS 11 News 7:11 PM May 21, 2014
KENAI PENINSULA –

Update, 7 p.m.

The Funny River wildfire has increased in size to nearly 44,000 acres — still with zero percent containment, according to authorities. The fire is currently spreading in the direction of refuge land, away from homes. Additional crews from around the state and the Lower 48, along with two Canadair CL-215 firefighting aircraft, are en route to assist in the firefighting efforts.

The Bureau of Land Management’s Yukon Crossing Visitor Contact Station, located at Mile 56 on the Dalton Highway, is closed due to the Dalton River Crossing fire. The Mile 60 campground is also off limits.

Information on Dalton Highway conditions and closures can be found online. Other BLM facilities along the highway, including the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center in Coldfoot, are scheduled to open Friday, officials said in a statement released Wednesday evening.

Original story

Two wildfires still rage in Southcentral Alaska, charring thousands of acres and concerning residents and fire officials. A third wildfire also sprung up in the state’s Interior Tuesday evening that is within two miles of the Dalton Highway.

DALTON RIVER CROSSING FIRE

The fire was reported Tuesday evening, north of the Yukon River and three miles east of the Dalton Highway. Sixteen smokejumpers and a helicopter are working the fire, said the state’s Division of Forestry. As of Wednesday afternoon, it’s estimated to be about 350 acres, said forestry information officer Sam Harrel.

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, the fire is moving west toward the highway and is one to two miles away. The fire, which is burning spruce and tundra, could reach the highway Wednesday evening, officials said. There’s also worry it could reach the trans-Alaska pipeline.

SOUTHCENTRAL FIRES

The Funny River fire had grown to 20,000-plus acres by Wednesday morning, the Division of Forestry said. Ash could be seen falling from the sky over the Soldotna Municipal Airport. No one has been forced to evacuate yet, but the fire is only a few miles away from homes along the Sterling Highway.

Shanna McCartney, who lives off Funny River Road, said she’ll start packing if the fire gets any closer to her home.

“I was confident until I saw the flames by the road [Tuesday] night,” she said.

McCartney said she’s seen her fair share of wildfires, but still can’t help but worry.

More firefighters are on their way to tackle the blaze and officials said they’ve ordered more hotshots and air resources.

However, conditions are making it hard to get off the ground. Because of the amount of smoke, fire officials said they aren’t sure if they’ll be able to attack the Funny River fire from the air Wednesday.

For now, the goal is to secure the northern flank of the blaze, try to put retardant down and secure the west side of the fire from Kasilof.

Meanwhile, the wildfire near Tyonek, which burned three structures overnight, now stretches about 1,500 acres and has changed course. Some Tyonek residents have returned home after a Monday evacuation as the fire now heads north toward Beluga. A Chugach Electric power plant is nearby, and there’s some concern the fire could reach it, the Division of Forestry said.

At the moment, the power plant — which supplies about one-third of Anchorage’s power — is not threatened, Chugach Electric officials said.

Three crews and three helicopters are assigned to the fire, Harrel said, and two retardant air tankers are also working to curb the advance of flames.

Both Southcentral fires sparked Monday. The Funny River fire is believed to be human-caused and the Tyonek fire is believed to have started after a tree hit a power line.

 –This is a developing story.

Latest Stories

  • Politics

    Education commissioner on Walker’s vetoes: Districts will bear burden of cuts

    by Eric Ruble on Jun 29, 20:54

    A reduction in education funding of more than $58 million could mean difficult decisions for Alaska schools during the coming months. The cuts come as part of Gov. Bill Walker’s $1.29 billion vetoes, announced Wednesday. “We’ve had multiple years of these cuts, and I think people are starting to worry,” said Aaron Poe, a member […]

  • News

    Fireworks shows get OK from Anchorage fire chief

    by Lauren Maxwell on Jun 29, 19:47

    The Anchorage Fire Department has given the green light for two fireworks shows on the Fourth of July. One will be held at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage, the other at Eagle River Lions Club Community Park in Eagle River. Fire Chief Denis LeBlanc said residents need to remember that fireworks are still illegal in Anchorage […]

  • Lifestyle

    FDA questions effectiveness of popular hand sanitizers

    by Associated Press on Jun 29, 19:02

    Federal health officials want to know whether hand sanitizers used by millions of Americans work as well as manufacturers claim — and whether there are any health risks to their growing use. The Food and Drug Administration is asking for new studies on how the antiseptic gels and rubs fight germs and get absorbed into the body, […]

  • News

    AWWU announces intersection closure for water main repairs

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 29, 18:45

    The intersection of Tudor Road and Old Seward Highway will be closed from Friday night until early Wednesday morning, the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility (AWWU) announced. The closure will begin at 8 p.m. Friday to allow AWWU personnel to make repairs to a water main that was damaged in May. Alaska Road Boring Company was […]

  • Crime

    Charging documents show woman found in car was tortured, shot before being killed

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 29, 17:17

    A late night DUI crash turned into a homicide investigation after police found a dead woman in the back of a vehicle Monday night. Charging documents against the driver, 34-year-old Benjamin Wilkins, revealed the woman had been severely injured and killed prior to the crash. Wilkins was detained on suspicion of intoxication after failing field sobriety […]

  • Lifestyle

    Alaskans: Be bear aware with fish waste

    by Megan Edge on Jun 29, 13:50

    Fishermen, watch where you waste. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is asking you to dispose of any leftover fish parts and pieces in the appropriate areas. Tossing waste in the wrong places can be dangerous for bears and humans, plus it could lead to a fine. “It’s fishing season and folks need to […]

  • Crime

    3 teens arrested in kidnapping, robbery case

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 29, 13:50

    Alaska State Troopers and the Anchorage Police Department have filed charges against a group of teenagers after an alleged kidnapping, robbery and assault early Wednesday morning. Around 4 a.m., the three teens – 19-year-old Damien Peterson, 18-year-old Austin Barrett and 17-year-old Devin Peterson, all of Wasilla — allegedly assaulted an Eagle River man at a home on […]

  • DayBreak

    Workforce Wednesday: 10 skills to master to impress an employer

    by Daybreak Staff on Jun 29, 12:40

    Getting a job is all about knowing what to do and what not to do in order to get that interview, then climb the ladder, especially as the state’s job force becomes more competitive. Alaska Process Industry Careers Consortium’s (APICC) outreach coordinator meets with businesses statewide to get a better feel for the workforce. Martha […]