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Fire behavior increases on McDonald Fire in Alaska

June 20, 2024

McDonald Fire activity escalates with warmer weather

As reported by the Alaska Wildland Fire Information, the McDonald Fire exhibited increased fire activity on Saturday due to warmer, sunny weather.

Smoldering and group torching occurred in some areas, burning through pockets of unburned vegetation and producing visible smoke.

Two designated firefighters on the east side provided timely fire behavior updates.

The forecast predicts continued sunny skies, high temperatures, and low humidity for the next two to three days, keeping fire danger high in the area.

The Midnight Suns Hotshots managed to cut a quarter-mile of direct line on the southeast corner of the fire near 5 Mile Creek.

This effort aims to protect nearby cabins, which have been prepared with sprinkler systems and removal of burnable vegetation.

Firefighters will use these sprinkler systems to wet down areas around the cabins as temperatures rise.

Other tasks include clearing fallen and weakened trees to ensure safe access and egress from the east side of the fire.

Additional firefighting resources mobilized

The Division of Forestry & Fire Protection’s (DOF) Pioneer Peak Hotshots will transition from fuels mitigation projects at Harding Lake State Park to work on the McDonald Fire starting Monday.

Five smokejumpers will demobilize to be ready for new fires throughout the state, and an additional 10 smokejumpers are being ordered from the Lower 48, bringing the total to 30 additional smokejumpers to support wildfire response in Alaska.

The DOF Gannett Glacier crew continues its fuels mitigation work at Harding Lake State Park and is prepared to respond to any new fire starts in the Interior region.

Weather conditions on Sunday are expected to include mostly sunny skies with haze and smoke, isolated showers, and a slight chance of thunderstorms.

High temperatures will be around 79 degrees with minimum humidity at 30%.

Light westerly winds are expected, with gusty and erratic winds near thunderstorms.

Burn permits and air quality information

The Division of Forestry and Fire Protection (DOF) has issued Burn Permit Suspensions for Fairbanks, Salcha, Tok, and Railbelt areas due to the high fire danger.

For the most current updates, residents can visit the DOF website or call the burn permit hotline.

Currently, no active air quality advisories are in effect.

Information on protecting oneself from wildfire smoke can be found on the Smoke Management page of akfireinfo.com.

Evacuation notices issued

The Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) has issued a Level 2: SET evacuation notice for approximately 20 cabins near the fire’s southern edge.

Additionally, areas along the lower Salcha River, Harding Lake, Hollies Acres, and Canaday neighborhoods have been placed on READY status.

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