The latest on Southcentral wildfires: Aug. 22, 2019

Crews cut hazard trees near edge of fireline of McKinley Fire. (Photo courtesy of AK Fire Info)

Calm winds are aiding firefighters as they continue to battle blazes throughout Southcentral.

The McKinley Fire, between Willow and Talkeetna, is currently 10 percent contained after igniting on Saturday. It is currently around 3,700 acres.

The fire has destroyed an estimated eighty structures and displaced roughly 400 residents in the evacuation. Assessments are underway to determine how many of the destroyed structures were homes.

Meanwhile, the Caribou Lake Fire, currently burning 25 miles northeast of Homer, is estimated at 800 acres. Division of Forestry officials say the fire is also 10 percent contained. Responders had issues with winds yesterday, as the fire crossed over the western fire lines. But crews, with the help of water scoopers and retardant tankers were able to push back today. Forestry officials say there’s no immediate threat to structures in the area.

Authorities reopened the Sterling Highway after closing it late yesterday afternoon so that helicopter and ground crews could protect local power poles from the Swan Lake Fire. It reopened later in the day.

As of this morning, a little over 300 firefighters are focusing on the west side of the fire to keep it away from nearby Sterling, as well as Cooper Landing towards the south.

Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor Charlie Pierce declared a disaster yesterday in response to fires in the borough. Mat-Su borough mayor Vern Halter made a similar declaration Monday in response to fires in that area.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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