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Stuart Creek Fire

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[Published yesterday evening on Living In Alaska, by Susan L. Stevenson. Re-Posted with permission.]
Yesterday I wrote about the huge Stuart Creek Fire which is raging nearby. The fire has grown to nearly 80,000 acres! There was a mandatory evacuation from Two Rivers and the Pleasant Valley areas (mp 18-34, according to some reports) late yesterday afternoon. My friends Amanda, Julie and I happened to be driving out on Chena Hot Springs Rd when the evacuation order came through.
We drove as far as Twin Bears Camp, when we saw the Park Rangers coming toward us with their lights flashing. Vehicles in front of us were stopping and turning around. We knew they were closing the road. The fire was too close to take any chances.
Although the flames themselves were about 5 miles away, the heavy, acrid, smoke was thick and full of ash. So thick that it blocked out most of the light, making it look like it was 9pm and not 1pm. At other times, the sky was tinted an eerie orange.
We drove back in the neighborhood behind Pleasant Valley Store. There was very little traffic. We passed several large portable water reservoirs. They looked like above ground swimming pools and were filled to the top with water. Attached to the side of these reservoirs were large hoses. This large hose would continue down the neighborhood road. Along the way there were hose splitters that allowed smaller hoses to be attached. These smaller hoses were stretched up individual driveways.
Seeing all of this, made things even more scary – and extremely serious.  My heart hurt for all who live out there, and soon all three of us were wiping tears from our eyes. The fire is such a monster!
We got into a long line of traffic back to Fairbanks. When we reached mp 6 (Nordale Rd), there was a checkpoint. They were letting those of us leaving Chena Hot Springs Rd go on our way, but those who were heading toward the fire (and their homes) were being stopped and questioned (or maybe ID’d?). There were an awful lot of horse trailers and dog boxes going out there. It was very sad.
We decided to drive down to Eielson AFB and see what was happening on the south side of the fire. We stopped at a picnic area with a huge lake, but I don’t know the name of the lake unfortunately. From there we could see the planes dropping water and flame retardant. The water bags (Bambi Buckets) looked like thimbles against the monstrosity of this blaze.
This is what it looked like as we drove out Chena Hot Springs Rd. This was taken at about mile 14.
24-9837FishingSmokeP 23-9809PlanesFightingFireP 22-9801SmokeEielsonP 21-9756_59SmokeLakePanoP 20-9713HelicopterWithBambiBucketP 19-9701EielsonRetardentP 18-9685EielsonRetardentDropP 17-9679NordaleRdTrafficP 16-9673NordaleRdTrafficP 15-9665BusAtPleasantValleyStoreP 14-9663PleasantValleyStoreP 13-9644RosehipCampgroundP 12-9629EvacuationTeamP 11-9627SunSmokeP 10-9621TwinBearsP 09-9610AshP 08-9590OrangeSmokeySkyP 07-9584_87ChenaHotSpringsRoadFirePanoP 06-9575StagingAreaP 05-9572WaterContainersP 04-9568HoseToHouseP 03-9560DarknessSmokeP 02-9557NearYakFarmP 01-9534ChenaHotSpringsRoadP
About an hour ago, it started to rain. It’s not a heavy rain, but it’s so welcome. I hope it continues long enough to knock back the fire.
Please keep the people of Two Rivers and Pleasant Valley in your thoughts and prayers. And do a rain dance if you’re so inclined! We could use some help from nature!