Wildfire near Elliot Highway triggers 'Go' evacuation order

An aerial view of the Globe Fire on the night of Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (By Ryan McPherson/BLM AFS)

A fast-moving wildfire near the Elliot Highway triggered a Level 3 “Go” evacuation advisory Wednesday evening for residents between Mile 41 and Mile 43 of the highway.

Alaska Fire Department spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said a state Department of Transportation work camp and a few homes were in the path of the Globe fire, which, initially reported, spanned approximately 1 acre as of Tuesday.

“And then Wednesday afternoon we received information that the fire activity had increased significantly and was moving toward the highway,” Ipsen said.

An overview confirmed the rapid progression of the fire.

“It's been estimated to be over a thousand acres and about a mile from the nearest structure, and because it's moving through the black spruce, it's moving pretty quickly,” Ipsen said.

Ipsen said communications are difficult in the area and Alaska State Troopers are assisting.

“(We) are letting it be known that this fire may impact the road between mileposts 37 and 52, but the residents between mileposts 41 and 43 are what we are most concerned about.”

Ipsen said smoke bombs, water and drops of retardant were deployed on the Globe Fire.

Meanwhile, work continues on two other inland wildfires off Steese Highway. The Deception Pup Fire near Central and the Flasco Fire near Circle were hit aggressively with water and retardant Tuesday evening, and Ipsen said additional resources were being sent to help with more deletion.

“More crews, particularly surge crews, two surge crews from California that will be going out and helping fight these fires,” she said. “We're also getting a Type 3 incident management team from Idaho that's going to take over efforts on a group of fires, including these two fires, in that general vicinity of Steese Highway.”

Red flag conditions are forecast for much of the interior, and wildfire activity has spurred an increase in statewide preparedness to Level 4, just below the level highest: 5.

The McDonald Fire burns toward the Tanana River on the night of Monday, June 24, 2024. (By Ethan Paul/BLM AFS)

The state's two largest wildfires, the lightning-sparked McDonald and Clear Fires south of Fairbanks, continue to release thick smoke as they burn at military training grounds west of the Tanana River. Terry Solomon, fire information officer, said fires persisted in largely undeveloped areas.

“There are different military infrastructures, survival cabins and things like that,” Solomon explained.

RELATED: More than 100 wildfires are burning in Alaska, many of them in the country's interior.

Much work has gone into protecting the private cabins located on the southern edge of the McDonald Fire. Solomon said officials are closely monitoring the eastern perimeter of the fire, along the Tanana River and Richardson Highway.

“We have engines and crews that are tasked with monitoring the east side of the river, just in case something crosses the river,” he said.

As of Wednesday, the McDonald Fire had grown to more than 62,000 acres, and the Clear Fire was estimated to have burned more than 23,000 acres.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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