An Alaska fire is now near homes, and this has forced the evacuation of 1,000 structures in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. This fire has been burning for over a week, but it has not threatened any structures. No buildings have burned yet, but that may soon change. The fire spread to cover 243 square miles on Sunday afternoon. That makes this fire larger than the city of Seattle. In May 25, The Washington Times reported on the latest news for this fire.
The Funny River Fire is anything but funny. The fire is named after a road in the area. Residents have been using this road to evacuate the fire that is now threatening at least 150 homes in the area. High winds are to blame for the quick expansion of this fire. On Sunday morning, the fire covered only 193 square miles, and it was 20 percent contained. Residents in the area were forced to leave after doing all they could to save their homes.
Dennis Downs was trying to help his mother-in-law save the home that she has lived in for the last 40 years. He and his wife tried to clear all the dead brush near her home, but they were forced to leave. Downs said the following to a local newspaper after evacuating the area: "There’s a good possibility the house will burn."
Alaska State Troopers went door to door to evacuate people in the area. The homes in the area are mostly second homes and vacation homes. With the Memorial Day weekend, many had traveled to these second homes to enjoy the holiday with their families. Homes in the area are also owned by many retirees. This was not the first time residents were asked to evacuate the area. Residents of 50 homes were forced to evacuate on Friday night, but they were allowed to return on Saturday.
Michelle Weston is a spokeswoman for the Alaska Interagency Management Team, and she has been keeping people up to date on the status of this fire. She reported that there are crews fighting this fire by air. Currently, there are "two Alaska Air National Guard helicopters and five other helicopters" fighting the fire.
The Funny River Fire is not the only fire in Alaska burning right now. It is the largest of the seven fires currently burning in the state. Weston said the following about the summer fire season, according to Deseret News: "We don't normally have a large fire like this so early in the season." A million acres usually burn each fire season. With this fire, over 140,000 acres have been burned alone.
With only 20 percent containment, the story on this fire is far from over. Until those fighting the blaze can gain even more control, it will continue to threaten homes in the area. The high winds are not helping fire fighters do that. Currently, crews from Oregon, Montana and Canada have joined Alaskan fire fighters to fight this fire.
What do you think? Have you ever visited Alaska? Are you familiar with the area currently involved in the fire?