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6/15/15 - Wildfire forces hundreds to evacuate; public asked to avoid using any open sources of fire

Willow wildfire forces hundreds to evacuate
By Josh Edge, APRN

A quick-moving wildfire started yesterday [Sunday] near Willow has displaced hundreds of area residents and halted travel along the Parks Highway much of last night and this morning. As of about 1 o'clock this morning [Monday] the fire was estimated at about 6,500 acres.

Matanuska-Susitna Borough spokesperson Pam Ness said the fire does not appear to have grown much since then.

"The fire laid down last night, pretty much in the same area that it was," said Ness.

Ness says the number of affected structures is currently unknown.

The blaze closed the Parks Highway much of Sunday afternoon and evening in the area as crews worked to slow its progress and protect structures.

Ness says State Troopers are allowing some traffic through the area periodically....but that's subject to change, depending on fire fighting activities.

"We have AST currently stopping vehicles at Mile 66.5 and then we have pilot cars and AST alternating traffic north and south. There is talk that the highway may be closed, but they're gonna keep it open as long
as they can."

Ness says officials have given voluntary evacuation notices for residents between Miles 63 and 78 of the Parks Highway.


"We're recommending that they evacuate and not go back," said Ness.

Evacuation centers are set up at Houston Middle School and Wasilla FishHook Bible Camp. And at the Upper Susitna Senior Center near Talkeetna.

The Matanuska Electric Association has cut power to the evacuation area...and the solid waste transfer site in Willow is closed.


Details concerning how the fire started have not been released, though officials say it was caused by humans. It was reported yesterday afternoon on the West side of the Parks highway, on West Sockeye Avenue.
For more information:
Visit the Mat-Su Borough Facebook page, or call (907) 861-8500.
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