1 home destroyed, 155 people told to evacuate Alaska fire

July 9, 2022 GMT
In this photo provided by Eric Kiehn, Northwest Incident Management Team 10, Alaska Division of Forestry, a fixed-wing aircraft drops water on the Clear Fire near Anderson, Alaska, July 6, 2022. One home has been destroyed by the wildfire burning in Alaska’s interior, while a majority of people under evacuation orders are sheltering in place. (Eric Kiehn, Northwest Incident Management Team 10, Alaska Division of Forestry via AP)
In this photo provided by Eric Kiehn, Northwest Incident Management Team 10, Alaska Division of Forestry, a fixed-wing aircraft drops water on the Clear Fire near Anderson, Alaska, July 6, 2022. One home has been destroyed by the wildfire burning in Alaska’s interior, while a majority of people under evacuation orders are sheltering in place. (Eric Kiehn, Northwest Incident Management Team 10, Alaska Division of Forestry via AP)
In this photo provided by Eric Kiehn, Northwest Incident Management Team 10, Alaska Division of Forestry, a fixed-wing aircraft drops water on the Clear Fire near Anderson, Alaska, July 6, 2022. One home has been destroyed by the wildfire burning in Alaska’s interior, while a majority of people under evacuation orders are sheltering in place. (Eric Kiehn, Northwest Incident Management Team 10, Alaska Division of Forestry via AP)
In this photo provided by Eric Kiehn, Northwest Incident Management Team 10, Alaska Division of Forestry, a fixed-wing aircraft drops water on the Clear Fire near Anderson, Alaska, July 6, 2022. One home has been destroyed by the wildfire burning in Alaska’s interior, while a majority of people under evacuation orders are sheltering in place. (Eric Kiehn, Northwest Incident Management Team 10, Alaska Division of Forestry via AP)
In this photo provided by Eric Kiehn, Northwest Incident Management Team 10, Alaska Division of Forestry, a fixed-wing aircraft drops water on the Clear Fire near Anderson, Alaska, July 6, 2022. One home has been destroyed by the wildfire burning in Alaska’s interior, while a majority of people under evacuation orders are sheltering in place. (Eric Kiehn, Northwest Incident Management Team 10, Alaska Division of Forestry via AP)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — One home has been destroyed by a wildfire burning in Alaska’s interior, while a majority of people under evacuation orders are sheltering in place, an official said Friday.

The Clear fire is burning near the community of Anderson, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southwest of Fairbanks.

The city itself is not under an evacuation order, but three nearby subdivisions were earlier told to leave, as were those living in an area accessed by Kobe Road and cabins along the Teklanika River within two miles (3.2 kilometers) of the current fire perimeter.

The evacuation was expanded Thursday to include structures that can be accessed by roads, driveways or trails on either side of the Parks Highway, from mile posts 273 to 280.

The highway, which is the main thoroughfare between Anchorage and Fairbanks, has not been closed.

In total, 160 single family structure are included in the evacuation order, said fire spokesman Dan Omdal. These could include permanent homes, summer homes, hunting camps or vacation rentals, so not all are occupied.

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The one home that was destroyed was confirmed by Denali Borough emergency management officials, Omdal said, but he didn’t have a location. Officials said in a statement that assessment of other properties could take days.

There are 155 people living in those structures under evacuation orders, he said. Of those, only 25 have evacuated with 130 people sheltering in place.

When emergency managers issue evacuation orders, it’s time to go, Omdal said. If they don’t, firefighters whose jobs it is to fight the fire are now responsible for the safety and welfare of the people who remain.

“It’s an uncomfortable dilemma to put these firefighters in,” he said. “They are trained and skilled in fire suppression, they’re not good at recovery and they’re not good at moving old ladies who are resistant to leave their homes.”

Firefighters are battling hot and dry conditions in the Clear fire, but helicopters were able to fly in clear skies Friday.

Fixed-wing airplanes on Thursday evening were able to drop about 12 loads of retardant on the perimeter of the fire.

There are 491 resources assigned to the fire, which includes firefighters, managers and equipment like engines and dozers.

The 103-square-mile (267-square-kilometer) fire was started by lightning on June 21. The fire burning in brush, hardwoods, black spruce and tundra was 12% contained.