Wildfires kept 90 miles of highway closed today (June 25), stranding at least 150 people and dozens of RVs in the tiny mining community of Chicken, Alaska, the Associated Press reports.
The community was not believed to be in danger, but it has no land phone lines, so details were limited to occasional radio transmissions from fire crews, said Craig McCaa, a fire information officer in Tok, Alaska.
Three fires – fueled by light winds and hot, dry air – prompted the closure of the Taylor Highway on Thursday (June 24) on both sides of Chicken, a hamlet near the Canadian border with a permanent population of 21.
Residents, seasonal miners and travelers were trapped, fire officials said.
‘It is a very dangerous situation right now,” said fire dispatcher Gene Burke in Tok.
The largest fire, covering 33,000 acres, was about a mile south of the community but was not kicking up, McCaa said. That blaze was sparked June 15 by two lightning strikes.
A second fire to the south had burned at least 16,000 acres. The size of the third blaze, about six miles east of Chicken, was unknown.
So far this year, 298 fires statewide have burned at least 350,654 acres, fire officials said.