Iditarod musher Rick Casillo braces his home, kennel for Montana Creek wildfire
There are multiple fires burning in the state right now and the dangers remain a real concern for many Alaskans.
Near Talkeetna, the Montana Creek Fire is estimated to be burning around 250 acres.
While no homes have been damaged, there has been a Level 2 evacuation alert for residents of the area. A Level 2 alert means that people should be ready to leave their homes on short notice whenever an evacuation becomes necessary.
The elevated alert leaves many watching and preparing for what might happen next, including Iditarod musher Rick Casillo. The fire is nearing his property, where he runs a nonprofit called Battle Dawgs. The group offers free outdoor rehabilitation camps to combat veterans, giving them a peaceful, beautiful place to relax.
He also has a kennel with more than 50 dogs.
The musher said they worked earlier this year to clear hundreds of beetle-killed trees around the property to create defensible space around the camp he calls home. Still it might not have been enough.
Casillo says the smoke from the Montana Creek Fire picked up Thursday morning and started blowing his way, so he’s keeping his grass damp and his dogs — who are his No. 1 priority — ready to go at any moment.
“I got a call from someone in the forest service and she said just be ready because more than likely by tonight you’re probably going to get a phone call or someone’s going to come knocking on the doors, so we’re ready to go," he said.
If and when Rick gets that call, his family and his pups will be ready. Until then, everyone is waiting to see what will happen next.
In a post on the Battle Dawgs Facebook page Friday night, they wrote that while running water to the off-the-grid camp to keep the structures safe, they needed a generator to recharge batteries.
"The generator and battery bank caught fire, and was instantly engulfed in flames," Casillo wrote in a post on his personal page. "The entire structure is gone and even melted generator. We fought it for 1.5 hours straight and got it under control before the fire crews showed up."
The post stated the building was a "complete loss." Casillo wrote that without power, people at the camp battled the fire with five-gallon buckets and 800 gallons of reserved water.
"No power means no water. No water means dry surroundings with an active wild fire just a mile away," they wrote on the Battle Dawgs page.
Undeterred, Casillo wrote that they will regroup and overcome this obstacle, too.
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