East Anchorage wildland fire now 100% contained, cause remains under investigation

Burnt trees in a forrest after a forrest fire
Some trees were still burning on Friday, June 24, after the 13-acre fire in East Anchorage. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

A fire that burned 13 acres in East Anchorage last week is now 100% contained and controlled, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry.

But there’s still work to do in the wooded area near Campbell Park.

On Monday, a 20-person hotshot crew and three Division of Forestry firefighters continued mopping up and checking that logs and stumps had cooled. They also searched the surrounding area to make sure there were no small fires nearby.

The division will wait several days before calling the fire officially “out,” said spokesperson Mike McMillan.

“It was a good effort by both the state and the city firefighters to come together and stop it,” McMillan said. “There were no injuries reported, so it was a successful operation all the way around.”

The lack of gusty winds through the weekend also helped with the cleanup, he said. The weather forecast calls for high temperatures in the 70s in Anchorage this week. Highs could reach the mid-80s on Wednesday. McMillan said he’s hopeful winds will stay low as fire crews wrap up their work.

“We don’t expect high winds, but the warm temperatures are always a concern when people are recreating,” McMillan said.

He said what caused the fire remains under investigation, but officials suspect it was human-caused since there wasn’t lightning in the area.

While a burn ban for Anchorage was lifted weeks ago, open fires on the ground, including campfires and burn pits, are still not allowed.

Anchorage residents can use outdoor fireplaces as long as they have a screen on top, have legs that lift them off the ground and are 15 feet away from anything that could catch on fire. Electric, gas and charcoal barbecue grills are also allowed.

“If it’s up on legs, then it’s a commercial device. Use it the way it’s recommended,” said Anchorage Fire Department assistant fire chief Alex Boyd. “That’s considered an enclosed pit. You have to have a screen over top, but you can burn it.”

A burn ban would mean outdoor fireplaces would also not be allowed, Boyd said.

In the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, burn barrels, debris piles, or lawn burns are not allowed. Campfires are allowed if they’re smaller than three feet in diameter, but McMillan said that could change. 

“Although we’re still allowing campfires in this area, that would change if the wind picked up or if we had new fire starts,” he said. “So we ask the public to be really diligent.”

He said people burning campfires in the Mat-Su should remain cautious as fire danger persists throughout the state.

[Sign up for Alaska Public Media’s daily newsletter to get our top stories delivered to your inbox.]

Previous articleWasilla pilot killed while working on response to Interior fire
Next articleNorwegian Sun cruise ship docks in Juneau after hitting iceberg