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Smoke from McHugh fire may be headed for Anchorage

  • Author: Tegan Hanlon
  • Updated: July 20, 2016
  • Published July 20, 2016

Helicopters gather seawater in Turnagain Arm and loop back to McHugh Valley to douse the McHugh Creek wildfire on Wednesday afternoon, July 20, 2016. (Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News)

Smoke from the fire burning near McHugh Creek may begin to billow into Anchorage Thursday, following an overnight wind shift, the National Weather Service warned.

Northwest winds are expected to shift to the southeast around midnight Wednesday, the agency said in a special weather statement. Meteorologist Dave Snider said the southeast winds would likely increase gradually Thursday, peaking around 25 mph between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. before settling down.

Over the past few days, winds have largely blown in from the northwest, sending smoke southward, away from the city.

Winds are expected to shift from northwest to southeast tonight, sending smoke from the McHugh fire into Anchorage. (Courtesy: National Weather Service)

A shift in winds is what worries Alaskans living in Potter Valley, on the northern end of the flames. Some residents said they had packed up their cars by Wednesday afternoon, preparing to leave at a moment's notice.

Sarah Saarloos, a state Division of Forestry spokesperson, said firefighters were holding the fire's northern perimeter Wednesday with the help of air support, including helicopters dropping buckets of water on the flames. "There's been minimal growth today," she said.

The chance of rain is expected to increase Wednesday night, according to the weather service statement, which added that "Friday is the best chance to see accumulations areawide."

The blowing smoke should not impact visibility, but the smell of smoke may be noticeable through Thursday evening, the weather service said.

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