Alaska News

Rapidly growing wildfire near McGrath expands to 500 acres

A wildfire near McGrath grew to 500 acres on Sunday, with the Alaska Division of Forestry calling in smokejumpers and numerous other assets to fight it.

The Medfra Fire started in a previously burned area approximately 50 miles southeast of McGrath, in a remote part of Southwest Alaska. It was first reported at 10:25 a.m. Sunday, the Alaska Division of Forestry said in a news release.

By 1 p.m., a helicopter dropping buckets of water on the fire was joined by smokejumpers who were "pre-positioned in McGrath" due to the high fire danger.

High winds and plenty of forest fuel stoked the spread of the fire throughout the afternoon, and by 2:50 p.m. the fire had grown to more than 50 acres, according to the Division of Forestry. Just a few hours later, it had grown to 10 times that size.

"The latest report at approximately 6 p.m. was that the fire was 500 acres and growing," the release said.

Two tanker aircraft were also called in an effort to slow the fire's spread.

Six firefighting crews from villages including Nikolai, Lower Kalskag and Nondalton have been called to the fire.