Firefighters make 'significant progress' on McKinley fire, Parks Highway to reopen

Firefighter Jason Kohler with Anchorage Fire Department works with the Chugiak Engine crew to mop up hotspots on the line. Photo Credit: Jess St. Laurent/Chugiak Fire Department/Alaska DNR
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - As of Sunday morning, containment of the McKinley fire is up to 28%, mostly along the northern perimeter of the fire, say officials fighting the fire.

Based on current fire conditions, the Parks Highway between milepost 76-99 will be open without a pilot car as of noon Sunday. A speed limit of 45 mph will be in place within the area.

"Please drive with caution as flaggers will continue to be on the roadway in areas where fire crews and equipment will be entering/exiting the roadway," read a release from the Alaska Division of Forestry.

Fire managers are now looking at reevaluating current evacuation levels for the area due to the success in containing the fire. Strong winds forecast for the weekend did not materialize.

Matanuska Electric Association is also nearly finished restoring power to Caswell Lakes

Officials warn that there are still extremely dangerous conditions in the center of the fire area.

"Conditions in burned areas are very dangerous. Fire burns deeply in extremely dry duff layers and has weakened many trees that continue falling unexpectedly," read the release from forestry. "Ash pits exist and have caused minor burn injuries to firefighters."

A temporary flight restriction remains in place over the fire from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. 442 people are fighting the fire that has burned 3,368 acres.

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