Crews work to contain 13-acre wildfire in East Anchorage

A tanker dropping a load of orange fire retardant in woods right next to an Anchorage road
Tanker 540 drops a load of retardant on the Elmore Fire on Thursday, June 23, 2022. The fire in East Anchorage was responded to by Alaska Division of Forestry, JBER and Anchorage fire departments. (Photo by Mike McMillan/Alaska Division of Forestry)

A 13-acre wildland fire near Campbell Park in Anchorage is still 50% contained as of Friday morning, though officials expect containment to increase over the course of the day.

The quick-moving fire was reported Thursday afternoon in a wooded area near Elmore and Dowling roads. Dozens of Anchorage Fire Department firefighters worked with the Alaska Division of Forestry and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson crews on containment, laying fire retardant around the head of the fire and using helicopters to drop water on the flames.

Officials are calling the fire the Elmore Fire. AFD transferred management of it to the Division of Forestry late Thursday night.

A firefighter standing in a stream and trying to manage a firehose
An Alaska Division of Forestry firefighter reaches for a firehose as he wades through a stream on the Elmore Fire on Thursday, June 23, 2022, in East Anchorage. (Photo by Mike McMillan/Alaska Division of Forestry)

Forestry spokesperson Mike McMillan said a reduced crew of firefighters continued to spray the blaze overnight. A 21-person hotshot crew is expected to arrive Friday.

AFD Assistant Fire Chief Alex Boyd said the fire came within 300 feet of the roadway, but there has been no damage to infrastructure or buildings. A nearby power substation and natural gas pressure relief valve were “of concern,” Boyd said, but the fire never got close enough to threaten them.

Nearby roads were reopened by Thursday evening. Officials said drivers should use caution as firefighters continue to work the area.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the fire, which they don’t expect will be cleared up for a few more days. McMillan said there were no lightning strikes in the area, so it’s likely the fire was human-caused.

fire in 2019 burned close to the same area as the Elmore Fire. That fire was ignited by a flare fired into some grass, according to Boyd.

Anchorage is on track to have its warmest June on record. A burn ban is still in effect for the municipality as hot, dry conditions persist. Climate change-induced warming temperatures are causing wildland fires to become more frequent and intense in Alaska.

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