Four Army National Guard aircraft and 53 Guardsmen have been activated to help fight wildfires in the Interior and Kenai Peninsula, Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski announced.
Murkowski was sending two Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters to Fort Wainwright on Tuesday where they will assist in fighting Interior wildfires that have consumed 5.4 million acres. A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and C-23 Sherpa fixed-wing aircraft will be sent to the Kenai to respond to any new flare-ups.
Fire officials are predicting high winds over the next two days may cause significant fire growth on active wildfires in the Interior. The Taylor Highway Complex and Central Complex fires have collectively consumed 1.4 million acres.
On the Kenai, the 2,300-acre Glacier Creek fire is burning within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and fire officials say it is being pushed Southeast and Southwest by glacier winds. Crews there are trying to protect Bear Creek and a cabin in Moose Creek which is registered as a historic site.
“The wildfires that have scorched Interior Alaska and darkened skies across our state this summer have reached the point that we need to call in some more resources to help fight them,” the Governor said.
“Our thoughts will be with our firefighters and pilots as they work to keep our state safe during this unusual and challenging summer,” Murkowski said.
National Guard troops will be activated for two weeks to assist firefighters with the Department of Natural Resources.
Earlier this summer, the Murkowski administration called up more than 90 National Guard soldiers and dedicated six helicopters and two fixed wing aircraft along with 30 heavy trucks and tracked vehicles to provide fire suppression support in the Interior.
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