If you've driven the stretch of Parks Highway between Willow and Talkeetna since the McKinley Fire started, you've passed by Dan and Shari Larson's property.

At mile 86.6, it's one of the most heavily damaged areas that you can see from the road. The couple lost their home, three cabins and multiple vehicles. They haven't been back or even driven by.

Shari and Dan Larson

"We haven't even wanted to see many of the pictures yet because its such a shock," Shari said.

Shari and her husband never saw the fire coming. They were running an errand Sunday afternoon when troopers stopped their car and told them they had to go north quickly, away from their property because a fast-moving fire was on the way.

Photos taken from various points along the fire line show the destruction from the McKinley Fire on Aug. 20.


"We couldn't see it when we left home and came north but evidently it was traveling pretty fast through the woods," Shari said.

One of the reasons the Larsons haven't tried to go back is because they are worried about smoke. Dan, who has stage four cancer, said he doesn't want to get stuck in a line of traffic and be forced to breathe in smoke for a prolonged period of time, which could damage his fragile health even more. Shari said she doesn't mind waiting until it's easier to breathe.

The Larsons are grateful that friends are letting them stay in a trailer on their Talkeena property

The Larsons had few possessions in their car when they left their home but they're getting by now with the help of friends. A couple in Talkeetna is letting them stay in a travel trailer on their property which Shari says is perfectly comfortable for now.

Others have offered space in their homes for the winter, which Shari says she is grateful for, so that Dan can continue his cancer treatments without having to worry about where they will shelter. But what the couple would like most of all is to get back on their property and try to build something before the winter sets in.

Friends have set up a GoFundMe account to help them get started again. The Larsons say they're grateful for it all. 

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