Alaska’s Sockeye Fire Among The Most Dangerous Of Over 50 Raging Wildfires In The State

Wildfires are blazing through the Alaskan wilderness again this year, though not as early in the season as last year’s wildfires in the region. Still, fire personnel are faced with over 50 wildfires in the Last Frontier as of Wednesday. Alaska is used to forest fires, but what makes these fires different from historical Alaskan fires is the unusually low winter snowfall and hotter-than-usual temperatures in the spring. Two-thirds of Alaska was under red-flag fire warnings and watches, and most of the state is ripe for wildfires. Alaska’s Sockeye Fire, named after the street in Willow, Alaska where it originated as a small two-acre blaze, has been called one of the most dangerous wildfires in the U.S. right now.

Another extremely dangerous fire in Alaska is the Card Street Fire. Though it is smaller than the Sockeye Fire, experts expect this to continue raging. The area is experiencing low humidity and unfortunately, a possibility of dry thunderstorms remain in effect through Wednesday evening.

Sockeye Fire

As of the latest updates Wednesday, the human-caused Sockeye Fire has now engulfed 7,555 acres. Firefighters are focusing on containing the perimeter of the fire as well as attempting to control the Sockeye Fire’s interior. Crews are still trying to work on protecting structures within the neighborhoods and subdivisions in the perimeter of the Sockeye Fire. A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) remains in effect until midnight over the Sockeye Fire area, according to KTUU News.

The Sockeye Fire already reportedly burned between 50 to 100 structures already. The area is still evacuated. Matanuska-Susitna Borough on Facebook shared information about relief being provided by the area’s Salvation Army.

“The Salvation Army Mat-Su Corps drove up a fully mobile, self-contained kitchen, or ‘canteen,’ to feed those displaced by the Sockeye fire, as well as firefighters and other relief team members. Now parked at Houston Middle School, the canteen has the capacity to feed 500 people per day in a disaster.”

Card Street Fire

FEMA has authorized funds to help relief efforts where the Card Street Fire disaster is significantly affecting the populous. Just as with last year’s outpouring of community support during the Funny River Fire disaster, social media is being used to locate neighbors and extend offers of help. On KRSM’s Facebook page, for example, several contacts are listed for help with animal evacuations or temporary lodging for evacuees.

The latest updates on the Card Street Fire report that 2,574 acres have burned in this particular wildfire as of noon Wednesday, according to KTUU News, the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center and Kenai Peninsula Borough officials. Unfortunately, the Card Street Fire near Sterling is expected to double in size today.

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“Current strategic objectives are to: continue building direct fire line south of Card and Zenith Streets at the heel of the fire; limit fire growth on the western side of the fire near Feuding Lane; and prevent spot fires from getting established on the south side across the Kenai River. Heavy emphasis is on protecting the Kenai Keyes subdivision with personnel working around the clock on structure protection.”

Governor Bill Walker headed to the Kenai Peninsula Wednesday to assess the Card Street Fire as well as other fires in the area like the Cooper Landing Fire.

Though rumors were circulating about a lift in the evacuation, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough officials report Wednesday afternoon that there has been no change and that the evacuation area is still in danger from the Card Street Fire.

Tuesday night, there were reports of hundreds of lightning strikes across the state amid dry thunderstorms. The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center Situation Report as of Wednesday said that in total 15,095 acres have been burned by human-caused fired and 63,288.8 acres have been burned by lightning-caused wildfires in the state.

[Photo Credit: James Spike via Matanuska-Susitna Borough‘s Facebook page]