A wildfire reported Thursday afternoon near Campbell Park sent clouds of smoke into the sky and caused road closures in the area.
The fire, reported just before 3 p.m., had grown to about 13.1 acres and was 30% contained by 8 p.m. Thursday, according to the Anchorage Office of Emergency Management, citing an updated fire map. It was reported to be burning in a wooded area off Dowling and Elmore roads, Anchorage Deputy Fire Chief Alex Boyd said. No structure was immediately threatened by the fire, he said. Several municipal buildings, residences and a softball complex are located nearby.
Twenty Anchorage Fire Department units were on site Thursday afternoon and Forestry Division resources, including two engines, were also dispatched to the area.
Sam Harrel, acting statewide information officer for the Forestry Division, said early Thursday night that crews were in the process of bringing down the fire. The division had two helicopters dropping water on the blaze, along with two retarding tankers and firefighters on the ground laying hoses and working to contain the blaze.
Pioneer Peak’s inter-agency Hotshot team also responded from Palmer, Harrel said.
“The effort is pretty strong right now,” he said.
A third helicopter was also sent from Nenana to help with firefighting efforts, Harrel said.
In a Thursday evening update, the Forestry Division said the blaze had been ‘contained’ by the plane dropping a retarder, which had been 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 night, according to the division.
Other crew members from Palmer’s Forestry Division joined the effort Thursday, and one of the helicopters was released from the scene.
According to the division, the crews will remain on site overnight.
Corey Allen Young, a spokesman for the mayor providing information on the fire on behalf of the Office of Emergency Management, said resources from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson were also at the scene Thursday.
The Anchorage Police Department, which initially described the blaze as a brush fire, described a series of road closures caused by the blaze: Elmore Road was closed to southbound traffic between East Tudor Road and Dowling Road; East Dowling Road was closed west of Elmore Road; 68th Avenue and Elmore were closed; and northbound traffic was closed at MLK and Tudor Center Drive. Shortly before 8 p.m. Thursday, the Emergency Management Office said on social media that the roads would be reopened to traffic and asked drivers to give crews enough space to work.
Boyd had asked people to stay away from the area so crews could work to contain the fire.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck operation,” Young said.
The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear, which burned near the site of a man-made fire in 2019 that caused homes in the area to be evacuated. Hot, dry conditions in Anchorage increased fire danger Thursday and a citywide burning ban was put in place.
Harrel said that with conditions as they are, this fire had the potential to be more severe were it not for the strong response from multiple agencies.
“With the weekend weather forecast, this will only increase the risk of fire,” he said, urging people to be careful.
The Anchorage Office of Emergency Management said Thursday evening, fully extinguishing the fire and clearing hot spots would take about three to four days.
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