• 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

  • Crime

    APD: Former Anchorage School District employee charged with embezzlement

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 27, 10:31

    A former Anchorage School District (ASD) employee, and Eagle River woman, is accused of embezzling between $50,000 to $60,000 over a five-and-a-half-year period, according to a release from the Anchorage Police Department (APD). Kellie Fagan, 61, was the focus of a months-long audit and investigation by ASD and APD after it was discovered, in April, that […]

  • Politics

    Miller laments Murkowski debate schedule as inadequate

    by Associated Press on Sep 27, 9:12

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has committed to participate in four debates and forums leading to the November general election, a slate that at least one of her rivals, Joe Miller, considers inadequate. The schedule released by the incumbent Republican includes a fisheries debate Oct. 12 in Kodiak; an Alaska Federation of […]

  • News

    3 separate collisions on Glenn Highway kill moose, delay traffic

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 27, 8:12

    A cow moose and her two calves were killed Tuesday morning in collisions with vehicles on the Glenn Highway. It was the first of three separate crashes the department responded to in the area during the morning commute. The first collision occurred at 5:50 a.m. when the moose were attempting to cross the Glenn Highway. […]

  • Crime

    Kotzebue jury convicts village man of murder, assaults

    by Associated Press on Sep 27, 8:01

    KOTZEBUE, Alaska (AP) – A 40-year-old northwest Alaska man was convicted Monday of first-degree murder at a trial in Kotzebue. Alaska State Troopers say Christopher Cleveland of Selawik (SEL’-a-wik) also was convicted of attempted murder, felony assault, burglary, weapons misconduct, furnishing alcohol to a minor and illegally selling alcohol. Selawik is a village of nearly […]

  • Politics

    Poll: Nearly two-thirds of debate watchers said Hillary Clinton won

    by CBS News on Sep 27, 6:51

    Nearly two-thirds of voters said Monday that Hillary Clinton won the first general election debate that night at Hofstra University while close to a third said the same about Donald Trump, according to a CNN/ORC poll of voters who watched them face off. More of the people polled were more likely to describe themselves as Democrats, CNN […]

  • News

    Alaska group asks governor to delay sale of Fox well

    by Associated Press on Sep 27, 6:46

    FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) – A grassroots group is appealing to Alaska’s governor to keep a popular watering hole north of Fairbanks open to the public. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports (http://bit.ly/2d3o5qd ) that the Fox Springs Task Force is looking for ways to fund maintenance at the Fox well. In its Sept. 22 letter to […]

  • News

    Body of missing hiker found after 4-day search

    by Associated Press on Sep 27, 6:32

    SITKA, Alaska (AP) – The body of a man who went on a day hike on Mount Verstovia in Sitka has been found after a four-day search. The Daily Sitka Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/2cA3w3q ) that the search for 37-year-old Michael Hansen ended Friday after his body was discovered at the bottom of a steep mountainside […]

  • News

    How humpback whales are causing conflict in Southeast Alaska

    by Emily Carlson on Sep 26, 22:56

    Once hunted to the brink of extinction, the humpback whale is making a comeback. Researchers in southeast Alaska estimate the number of humpbacks has quadrupled in the last 20 years. However, that increase comes with a cost. Maeve O’Connell lives for data. The more she has, the more she understands what’s going on beneath the ocean. […]