McKinley Fire

A single lane of traffic drives through the smoke from the McKinley Fire Wednesday.

WASILLA — With the Deshka Fire nearly halfway contained crews shifted gears to assist with the McKinley Fire.

Division of Forestry officials estimate the size of the Deshka Fire, burning south of Willow, is now less than 1,400 acres as of Monday. It is also 40 percent contained, forestry said.

“The structure protection measures around homes and cabins on Red Shirt Lake were completed,” forestry officials said in an update reported Monday.

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As crews transitioned from the Deshka to the McKinley Fire Monday, the Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team and Mat-Su Borough officials announced that residents of a portion of the area that been under an evacuation order for more than a week could return to their properties Monday at noon.

“The current Level 3 go evacuation for those residences in the are of the Parks Highway from milepost 81.5 to 92 will be reduced to a Level 2 set,” forestry said in an update.

Monday morning, forestry officials said the McKinley Fire was 46 contained with an estimated size of 3,332 acres.

Forestry officials said residents in that area must be prepared to leave at any time as crews continue to battle the wildfire. The Level 2 orders for residents along the Parks Highway from Mile 79 to 81.9 was reduced to a Level 1 ready, and the Level 1 order for Mile 76 to 79 was cancelled.

Late last week, Interagency Incident Management Team Information Manager Kale Casey announced that the wind-aided fire that sparked Aug. 17 claimed 51 homes, approximately 80 outbuildings and three businesses.

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