The McKinley fire jumped the tracks Saturday night near railroad Mile 205 between Willow and Talkeetna and continued to burn Monday on both sides, the railroad said in an emailed statement.
Parks Highway wildfire burns at least 50 structures, prompts evacuations
Numerous burned trees have fallen on the tracks and crews are in the process of removing downed trees and are monitoring the situation, the railroad wrote.
"Alaska Division of Forestry and Matanuska-Susitna Borough personnel are still working to account for residents who chose not to evacuate their homes or go to an evacuation shelter," the agency said in a press release late Sunday night. "Forestry, borough and Red Cross officials are working to determine how many structures were lost but specific details about structures that burned are not currently available."
About 200 railroad passengers were transported by motor coach from Anchorage to Denali and Talkeetna on Sunday, and 140 southbound passengers from Fairbanks, Denali and Talkeetna were rerouted to Fairbanks by motor coach after several hours of delay because of the Parks Highway closure.
More passengers are expected to travel both directions by motor coach on Monday. The railroad expects to use motor coach service through Tuesday.
Alaska has been baking under record-high temperatures and other extreme weather this summer. July was the hottest month ever on record for the state. There may be some relief in sight – the mercury dropped to 37 degrees Monday morning at Fairbanks International Airport, according to the National Weather Service.
The Parks Highway reopened Monday morning to one lane with a pilot car leading vehicles through a 28-mile stretch, but there were still significant delays and drivers were urged to avoid the area, authorities said.
ANCHORAGE, (KTUU) – The Alaska Division of Forestry says the estimated size of the McKinley Fire is about 3,000 acres.
DOF says its still working to contain the fire on both sides of the Parks Highway between miles 82 to 91.
An evacuation order remains in effect along both sides of the highway from mileposts 82 to 91. Any residents in that area should leave their homes immediately.
Right now one lane on the Parks Highway is open with pilot cars leading vehicles through the fire area from mileposts 71 to 99. Officials say there is zero visibility along the road in the fire area and drivers should expect long delays.
At least 50 structures have been lost. State forestry is working with the Alaska State Fire Marshals Office and the Red Cross to assess the damage and confirm the number of structures that have been lost. Due to public and firefighter safety, residents who have been evacuated are currently not being allowed back into the fire area.
State forestry is working with local fire departments to protect structures in the fire area. Alaska National Guard and Alaska State Troopers are also assisting with traffic control and fire suppression efforts.
DOF says additional help from the lower 48 is expected to arrive in the state today to help with both the McKinley Fire and other fires burning in Southcentral Alaska. Ten hotshot crews, two air retardant tankers and four water-scooping aircraft have arrived or are en route.