For nearly a month, the Oregon Lakes Fire has been burning near Fort Greely and recent activity has caused it to spread.

Chinook winds — or warm, dry winds — have led to a westward expansion of the fire. According to a release from the Alaska Fire Service on Monday, winds have been gusting near 45 mph this weekend, causing the fire to increase by nearly 2,000 acres. Because of recent dry conditions, the fire is spreading across an area consisting of dry grass and ground fuels.

The fire spread west towards military observation points in the Donnelly Training Area, where firefighters had already set up sprinklers and pumps. To prevent the fire from spreading, retardant and water has been dumped near the observation points, where air operations plan to survey the area. 

AFS says crews will now focus on installation efforts to protect communities near the fire. Those areas — Richardson-Clearwater, South Bank and Whitestone — will have hoses, pumps and sprinklers installed near cabins and homes. Additionally, crews are reducing ground fuels that could carry the fire near cabins.

Many property owners in the Richardson-Clearwater and Whitestone communities have given firefighters permission to work on their land, but fire managers are asking those who own property in the South Banks area and have not spoken with fire officials to call (208)-254-1130.

As efforts continue to prevent the Oregon Lakes Fire from spreading, AFS says winds could still be a problem. A Red Flag Warning is still in effect for the area until 10 p.m. Monday, with gusty winds still possible into Tuesday.

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