Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Lightning strikes cause 18 fires in MAT-SU

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Thursday, June 28, 2007

MAT-SU 2AM--Lightning strikes are the cause of some 18 fires in the Susitna Valley and the west slopes of the Talkeetna mountains.

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough started up its Emergency Operation Center after midnight. Numerous MAT-SU firefighters and the Division of Forestry were dispatched to the Willow and Caswell Lakes area. A strike team from Chugiak Fire was also called out.

As of 2am Thursday, the largest fire is near Trapper Lake, a multi-hundred acre fire that at this hour is running and crowning and spotting ahead of itself. The Alaska Division of Forestry is monitoring the fire, which is in the proximity of mile 79 of the George Parks Highway, west of the Susitna River. No structures are threatened at this hour. Ash is falling on the Parks Highway. Fire crews will be monitoring throughout the night.

At last report, winds were pushing the fire north. The fire is burning in heavy black spruce in an area off the road system and firefighters are unable to access the fire. The relative humidity was rising from the heavy rains.

Alaska State Troopers are actively notifying residents in nearby cabins.

Forestry has ordered a type II team from the Lower 48. They are expected to arrive later today. Helicopters and air tankers have also been ordered and will be available by noon Thursday.

All MAT-SU Borough fire apparatus are on standby pending daylight and air support.

A red flag warning is still in effect. Right now open burning is prohibited in Southcentral Alaska. Residents are asked to report any fire activity with accurate descriptions of location n.

Updates will continue Thursday. Forestry will give an update at 8am.