Thousands of people will flock to Forest Fair this weekend, which means all hands on deck for the Girdwood Fire Department.

“One of the things we look at in here is how we would evacuate people and also where we would bring the fire trucks in,” GFD Chief Michelle Weston explained as she walked through the food court. “We have an egress point there, making sure the lanes are clear and we would move people if we wanted to.”

The department is fully staffed with 12 firefighters working 24-hour shifts. The Anchorage Fire Department brought its mobile command center where Girdwood Fire can coordinate with Whittier Police.

“We're also doing this (Forest Fair) as well as the car accidents and any backcountry issues that may come up. This is a full court press for us,” Weston said.

From the command center firefighters also have a surveillance camera that gives them a live look at what’s happening at the festival.

“We're able to zoom in and follow and have good situational awareness outside of the command center,” said Deputy Fire Chief Manch Garhart.

Forest Fair volunteers spend months putting the festival together. Tommy Salami, the minister of paperwork, coordinated the overnight camping and parking passes.

He said security guards will make regular checks to ensure sure people are following the rules.

“We're not allowed to camp along the river. We patrol along the river to make sure no one is camping there. It's very family-oriented. It's quiet-- no fireworks or that kind of stuff,” Salami said.

Bears are a concern for campers, too. For the first time, security volunteers handed out bear-aware fliers to all the vendors, advising them to keep food and trash secure or face a $310 fine.

“The food smells fabulous, so I wouldn't fault any bear who would come back. So, our plan is to keep the bears out,” Weston said.

She reminds people no campfires are allowed at the festival this year.

Forest Fair continues Saturday, July 7, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Alyeska Highway will be closed from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday for the parade.

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