A wildfire reported Thursday afternoon in East Anchorage woods sent clouds of smoke into the sky and caused road closures before being controlled by air tankers, helicopter drops and firefighters on the ground.
The fire, reported just before 3 p.m., grew to approximately 13.1 acres by late Thursday but was 50% contained by 11 p.m., according to the Alaska Division of Forestry. It was burning in a wooded area off Dowling and Elmore roads, said Anchorage Assistant Fire Chief Alex Boyd.
All roads in the area were reopened early Friday, Anchorage police said. The Anchorage Office of Emergency Management said on social media that drivers should give crews enough space to work in the coming days. A Forestry update late Thursday said personnel remained on scene overnight to monitor the fire.
No structures were immediately threatened by the blaze, he said. A number of homes and municipal buildings are nearby.
Twenty units from the Anchorage Fire Department were on scene Thursday afternoon, and resources from the Division of Forestry, including two engines, were also sent to the area.
Sam Harrel, acting statewide information officer for the Division of Forestry, said Thursday evening that the division had two helicopters dropping water on the blaze, as well as two retardant tankers and firefighters on the ground.
The Pioneer Peak Interagency Hotshot Crew also responded from Palmer, Harrel said.
“The effort’s pretty strong right now,” he said.
A third helicopter was also sent from Nenana to aid in firefighting efforts, Harrel said.
In a Thursday evening update, the forestry division said the fire had been “boxed in” by the retardant-dropping aircraft, which were released in order to be available to respond to other fires in the state. The hotshot crew was working to put water hoses around the fire Thursday evening, according to the division.
Corey Allen Young, a spokesman for the mayor providing information about the fire on behalf of the emergency management office, said resources from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson were on scene Thursday as well.
Boyd had asked people to stay away from the area so crews can work to contain the fire.
“This is an all hands on deck operation,” Young said.
It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the fire, which burned near the site of a human-caused fire in 2019 that prompted evacuations of area homes. Hot, dry conditions in Anchorage increased fire danger on Thursday, and a burn ban was implemented throughout the city.
Harrel said this fire had the potential to be more serious if not for the strong response by multiple agencies.
“With the weekend weather forecast, it’s only going to escalate the fire risk,” he said, urging people to be careful.
The Anchorage Office of Emergency Management said Thursday night that fully extinguishing the fire and cleaning up hot spots would take an estimated three to four days.
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