By Tim Mowry, DNR
High, erratic winds continue to pose a serious challenge for firefighters battling a 300-acre wildfire north of Palmer, while also producing new starts for firefighters in the Matanuska Valley.
Firefighters were scrambling Sunday night to respond to a 3-acre flare up and numerous spot fires on the Moose Creek Fire caused by the windy conditions on the northwest corner of the fire, which is burning on the north side of the Glenn Highway about 12 miles north of Palmer and 5 miles south of Sutton.
The flare up occurred at approximately 6 p.m. when the wind-driven fire crossed uncontained line. Fire managers launched two helicopters equipped with water buckets to drop water on the flare up while firefighters on the ground also responded.
In an effort contain the flare up, managers temporarily shifted firefighters from more-secure parts of the fire perimeter to bolster initial attack efforts. Firefighters are also contending with multiple spot fires popping up as a result of embers being carried by the wind.
Winds in the area are a steady 25-30 mph with gusts up to 40 mph. (In Palmer, gusts reached 65 mph on the highway Sunday.)
At 7:30 p.m., State Forestry also responded to another fire reported near Plumley Road in the Butte at approximately 7:30 p.m. Firefighters from Forestry and the Butte Fire Department arrived to find a private landowner burning debris piles about 1 1/2 miles down a trail head. Resources were enroute to extinguish the piles. See map of location. Forestry is returning in the morning.
In addition, State Forestry and local fire departments responded to a pair of small grass fires caused by downed power lines at approximately 1:30 p.m. – one at Mile 6 Clark Wolverine Road in the Butte and one on Farmloop Road north of Palmer, not far from the Moose Creek Fire.