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Conditions challenging as Funny River Fire grows to more than 140,000 acres

Amid strong winds and dry conditions the Funny River fire has continued to advance through the weekend.

State Fire Information officer Michelle Weston said this evening that the fire has grown well past 140,000 acres although she did not have a new estimate. Weston said the Funny River Road community has been under an evacuation order since 2 p.m.yesterday.

State Troopers and fire crew workers went door to door in the Funny River community to alert residents of the evacuation. Weston did not know how many residents lived in the area but said there are at least 1000 structures there, mostly cabins and the homes of retirees. Weston did not know if homes have been affected but said there have been no reports of injuries. The Fueding Lane Road area is also included in the evacuation order.

Weston said the Lower Skilak lake campground is currently being evacuated. State park officials are conducting that evacuation.

Spot fires have jumped the Kenai River prompting an evacuation watch for the Kenai Keys area. Weston said starting at Mile 103 of the Sterling highway to the Kasilof River is under evacuation watch for residents on the east side of the road. An evacuation watch means residents should prepare to leave if an evacuation order is necessary. Weston said Kenai Peninsula Borough officials are using a reverse 911 system to alert residents of  evacuation plans.

450 people are working on the fire. Weston said crews with water scooping planes from Canada and fire crews from the lower 48 are assisting, as is the Air National Guard, bringing in two Black Hawk helicopters.

“We’ve thrown everything we have at this fire at this time but the wind is strong and erratic. We have fire crews from the lower 48 but conditions are challenging.” Weston said.

See satellite photos of the fire from the NASA Earth Observatory.

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