Evacuations have been called for around the town of Willow 80 miles north of Anchorage as a fast moving fire grew to 6,500 acres in just hours. According to information on the Alaska Wildland Fire Website, the fire grew from 1,100 acres to 6,500 acres with expanding evacuations called for in a matter of hours.
According to information on the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center site the cost of this fire is estimated to be $421,632.00 a day with 111 people already committed to fighting this fire. According to their June 14th report, "Evacuation notices were completed from milepost 63 to milepost 78 of the Parks Highway and the highway was closed for most of the day due to the amount of fire apparatus in the area as well as the overall fire behavior. There were 25 primary structures lost as well as 10-20 secondary structures lost North of Kashwitna Lake. Five hotshot crews have been ordered from the Lower 48 and a Type 2 Team has also been ordered. The current size of the fire is approximately 6500 acres."
According to a report from Channel 2 KTUU in Anchorage the smoke is visible in Anchorage. There are also periodic closures along the Parks Highway with pilot cars guiding local traffic through when allowable.
The evacuation area is moving south with the fire. Though Willow is somewhat of a remote area, many residents called "mushers" own sled dogs that are used for transportation in the winter and in sled dog racing competitions. Willow is home to "mushers" who compete in the famous Iditarod Race.
One of the project ideas on the Firewise Website is to make evacuation kits for your pets before a wildfire event. The kit should include:
1. Dog bowls (one for water and food)
2. A warm blanket
3. Dog food that your pet is currently eating (having something different or new to your pet could result in an upset stomach)
4. Copies of vet and vaccination records
5. Leash and harness
6. A special toy
7. A small amount of the current medication your pet is on.
Our thoughts are with the people in the Willow, Alaska area. There is a lot we can do to prepare in the advance of wildfire to protect our properties, those we care about and our pets using Firewise Principals.