Update: Thursday, June 18th. 11:30 am.
On Thursday, the official estimate of the size of the Sockeye Fire was reduced to 7,066 acres, a reduction of almost 500 acres. According to the Incident Command Post, the new number is due to more accurate mapping, particularly in the area of Willow Creek.
Efforts continue to prevent the expansion of the fire by creating a defensible perimeter. Incident Commander Tom Kurth on Wednesday said the crews are trying to change from a defensive posture to actively attacking the interior of the fire zone.
The evacuation area remains in effect at this time from Mile 63 to Mile 78.5 of the Parks Highway. There is a possibility that the evacuation zone could decrease in size Thursday, but that has not happened yet.
The Parks Highway is currently open, with pilot cars leading traffic one direction at a time, so expect delays if you are traveling.
There will be face-to-face information sessions for owners of property inside the fire zone from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Thursday at Houston Middle School. For those who cannot make it, the borough has provided a phone number to call for information: 861-8500.
Update: Thursday, June 18th. 9:00 am.
Sockeye Fire Incident Commander Tom Kurth said Wednesday night that 500 people are working on the fire’s interior now. Despite progress, he says the evacuation has to remain in place while they hunt what remains of the fire, which can smolder underground.
A map released this morning of the fire perimeter shows the fire area, has shrunk to 7,066 acres – down about 500 from a day ago.
Conditions around Willow remain warm and dry, and thunderstorms are still in the forecast.
Sockeye Command Information Officer Celeste Prescott says fire managers are concerned about new fires that could ignite in the area. They’re encouraging the public to report suspected new fires so they can be tackled in their early stages.
Via the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center:
A Red Flag Warning is in effect over the fire for continued high temperatures and low humidity. Due to those continued hot, dry conditions the State of Alaska has closed burning in the Mat-Su Borough, Municipality of Anchorage, and Kenai Peninsula. All open fires and activities that increase fire danger are prohibited.
Pilots are reminded that a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) remains in place over the Sockeye Fire area. The TFR is lifted from midnight to 8:30 a.m. each evening to allow access to civilian aircraft. Fire managers will resume operational control of the airspace at 8:30 a.m. each day.