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Warm weather limits traffic on Big Lake ice road

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- Heavy rains around Big Lake Wednesday night left pools of standing water on the Big Lake ice road, triggering a rare order banning heavy ambulances and fire trucks from the usually hard-frozen winter highway.

The 6.5-mile ice road provides access to hundreds of homes -- many of them weekend cabins but also some year-round residences, on islands and shorelines of Big Lake, as well as Mud Lake and Flat Lake.

"We got driveways going everywhere. Most of them are flooded now," said Dan Mayfield, the president of Big Lake Trails Inc., one of the volunteer groups that keep the road cleared in winter. "There's three to six inches of water on the main ice road, probably more on some driveways."

The road is "very very icy" he said Thursday afternoon. "If you're not going 15, 20 mph down the lake, then you're going too fast."

By Thursday afternoon, the West Lakes Fire Department had ordered all ambulances and fire or rescue rigs to stay off the ice road, said West Lakes Chief Bill Gamble. Smaller vehicles, like the SUVs driven by responders, are still OK. He couldn't remember the last time the department kept big rigs off the ice road.

The ice is still three or four feet thick or so, Gamble said, so he's not worried about vehicles falling through.

"It's the sloppiness," he said. "If we get something stuck out there, getting something off the ice, especially a large vehicle, could be quite difficult."


By ZAZ HOLLANDER
zhollander@adn.com