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Posts from the 'Local News' category

Aircraft, Hotshot Crew Dispatched to Fight Lightning Fires Near Goose Creek

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

8:30 – Tuesday, June 16th, 2015


On Tuesday evening, lightning strikes started two fires in the area of Goose Creek near Mile 95 of the Parks Highway. Incident Command spokesperson Celeste Prescott says that the Division of Forestry dispatched two tankers and a helicopter to combat the fires. She says a total of at least nine new starts due to lightning had been reported by 8:00 pm on Tuesday.


As of 8:00 pm, Prescott says the aircraft reported that they were returning from the area, which she says could indicate that the fires have been significantly slowed.


Prescott says a hotshot crew on loan from the Sockeye Fire efforts is on the way to the Montana Creek fires to attempt to contain and secure the area.

Places to get information on the Sockeye Fire

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sockeye Fire Update 6-24: The Sockeye Fire is 92 percent contained. Firefighters continue to patrol fire lines and work the remaining portions of the uncontained perimeter along scattered sections of the Susitna River, Willow Creek and Little Willow Creek.

More than 200 community members attended an open house last night at the Willow Community Center to learn about some of the resources available to them following the fire. Among the participating organizations were the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Red Cross, Alaska Department of Homeland Security, Alaska Division of Insurance, Alaska Division of Forestry, and the Willow Citizen Emergency Response Team.

More than 400 personnel are still working the fire. Crews will continue to be released and become available to work other fires in Alaska. Area residents and travelers on the Parks Highway are asked to be alert and drive carefully because of continued firefighting activity.

Residents should expect to continue seeing minor fire activity within the burn perimeter. Scattered smokes and small flames, such as a smoldering log, should not be reported. Report anything that involves a structure or is an imminent threat to life or property. Report potential issues between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. to Sockeye Fire security, (928) 864-9435.


Here are multiple other sources for Susitna Valley residents to get information:

To report a fire: 911 or the Division of Forestry at 1-800-237-3633

Red Cross donation coordination 357-6060.

Mat-Su Borough for information on evacuation zones: 907-861-8326

Sockeye Fire Incident Command Post: 892-9413.



Official Sockeye Fire Incident Command Page

Mat-Su Borough

Red Cross – Alaska


Incident Command Website

Air Quality Advisories

Interview with KTNA’s Katie Writer at the Upper Susitna Senior Center

Monday, June 15, 2015

Attached is the audio of Phillip Manning’s live interview with Katie Writer at the Upper Susitna Senior Center evacuation shelter.  We will continue to provide updates as they become available.

Sockeye Fire Update

Monday, June 15, 2015

At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Governor Bill Walker accepted a request from the Mat-Su Borough that the Sockeye Fire be declared an official disaster.


Personnel from the borough and the Division of Forestry are still assessing the damage from the fire that grew to 6,500 acres by midnight on Sunday. The fire was slowed overnight when the wind and temperature decreased.


Currently, the fire has not reached the Willow townsite, but maps from the Division of Forestry show that it is not far away. Borough and state personnel say that priority one is life safety. Once life safety has been assured, then the priority can move to structures. Tom Kurth, spokesman for the Division of Forestry says, “Structures can be replaced. Lives can’t.”


Fire crews from around Southcentral are responding to the Sockeye Fire, as are a growing number of hotshot crews from Outside. Kurth says that, because the fire season in the Lower 48 is generally at a different time than in Alaska, more resources are available to help fight the blaze.


The current evacuation zone is from Mile 77 of the Parks Highway to Mile 63. At last report, the Parks Highway was open, with traffic using one lane with pilot cars. The status of the highway is subject to change, depending on developments in the Sockeye Fire.


Two evacuation points have been set up by the Red Cross. One is at Houston Middle School, and the other is at the Upper Susitna Senior Center in Sunshine.


This is a developing story. KTNA will provide more information as it becomes available.

Sockeye Fire Slows Overnight

Monday, June 15, 2015

Cooler temperatures and calming winds slowed the progress of the 6,500 acre Sockeye Fire overnight.  As the day heats up and winds resume, however, the fire could continue to spread.  The entire area around the Sockeye Fire is under a red flag warning for extreme fire danger.

Sam Harrel, spokesman for the Alaska Division of Forestry, says that firefighters do have one advantage today that they did not yesterday.  According to Harrel, “Yesterday, we chased the fire. Today, it’s going to wake up and we’ll be waiting for it.”

The status of the Parks Highway between miles 67 and 77 remains in “a constant state of fluidity” according to Beth Ipsen, spokeswoman for the Alaska State Troopers.  The last official report is that a pilot car is being used to escort vehicles in one direction at a time.

The evacuation zone from Mile 78 to Mile 63 of the highway remains in effect.  Borough spokeswoman Pam Ness says that the borough’s focus is on evacuation right now.

As many as 40 buildings have been destroyed by the fire so far.  The total number of homes damaged or destroyed is still being assessed.

The borough will hold a press conference at noon to provide updates on the Sockeye Fire.  KTNA will broadcast regular updates throughout the day and will make regular posts to Facebook and Twitter.

Sockeye Fire Grows to Over 4,000 Acres Near Willow

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The small fire that was initially reported at 1:15 pm burned more than 4,000 acres by 10:00 pm. Willow residents from Sharen Road south to Nancy Lake Parkway are evacuating, and many people are stuck on one side or the other of the fire, which has closed the Parks Highway.


Currently, there are evacuation gathering points north and south of the Sockeye Fire. South of the fire, the Red Cross has set up a shelter at Houston Middle School. The Willow Community Center was being used as a shelter, but was evacuated as the fire continued south. North of the fire, the Red Cross shelter is at the Upper Susitna Senior Center. Mat-Su Borough School District spokeswoman Catherine Esary says that the borough has not requested the use of Su-Valley Jr/Sr High School as an overflow shelter, but that it could be made available.


Windy conditions have allowed what started as a small fire to turn into a blaze that is still moving south toward Willow as of the time this is being written. The state Division of Forestry estimates the size of the fire at 4,183 acres as of Sunday night.

Hotshot crews from Outside arrived in Anchorage Sunday evening to help fight the quickly-growing fire.  Equipment and firefighters from around Southcentral Alaska are already working to save structures in the Willow area.

Authorities are asking that people stay away from the area.


KTNA will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Breaking: Fire Prompts Evacuations, Parks Hwy Closure

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Update 10:14 p.m.

The Division of Forestry now estimates the size of the Sockeye Fire at over 4,000 acres.

Update 10:05 p.m.

The evacuation zone has been expanded south again.  According to the Division of Forestry, the Sockeye Fire has jumped Willow Creek.  The expanded zone extends to Nancy Lake Parkway, near Mile 66 of the Parks Highway.

Update 9:32 p.m.

The Willow Community Center, which has served as an evacuation point for the Sockeye Fire, is now being evacuated.  People and animals are being transported to Houston Middle School.  For those north of the fire, the evacuation point is still the Upper Susitna Senior Center.

Update 7:28 p.m.

The shelter for people displaced/stranded by the Sockeye fire will be the Upper Susitna Senior Center on Helena Drive, just south of the intersection of the Talkeetna Spur Road and the Parks Highway.

Update 6:22 p.m.

Tim Mowry, spokesman for the Division of Forestry, says it is not confirmed that the fire is human-caused at this time.

Update: 6:12 p.m.

Patty Sullivan, spokeswoman for the Mat-Su Borough, confirms that one home has been destroyed in the Sockeye fire.  As many as five may have been destroyed, but that is not confirmed at this time.

The Division of Forestry says that the fire has now grown to 1,100 acres.

Update: 5:12 p.m.

The latest estimate on the size of the Sockeye Road Fire is 500 acres. 

The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center lists the cause of the fire as “human”

The Red Cross has set up a shelter at the Willow Community Center for evacuees.  Pets can be brought with a kennel or tie-out.  They ask that owners also bring food for any pets coming to the shelter.

Authorities are asking that anyone not directly involved with fighting the fire or the evacuation stay out of the area.

The Parks Highway has been closed from Sockeye Road to Willow Fishhook Road.

This afternoon, a wildfire in the Willow area prompted evacuation homes and the closure of the Parks Highway.


According to Tim Mowry, spokesman for the Division of Forestry, the fire was called in shortly after 1:00 pm. At that time, it was estimated to be two acres in size. By 3:00 pm, it had grown to over eighty acres. The fire is being driven to the south by wind.


Shortly after 3:00 pm, Mat-Su Borough Emergency Manager Casey Cook confirmed that the Parks Highway is closed between Mile 74 and Willow Fishhook Road, and no traffic is passing through the area. Officials are advising that people avoid the area of the fire.


As of 3:30, ten homes were confirmed evacuated, and evacuation in the Sharen Road subdivision was beginning.


This is a developing story. KTNA will provide updates as they become available.

Court documents detail child pornography charges against Talkeetna man

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Earlier this week, KTNA reported that 31 year-old Trent Griffin of Talkeetna has been indicted on eight charges pertaining to child pornography. KTNA has now received additional details from the charging documents filed with the Third District Criminal Superior Court in Palmer.

Included in the documents is an affidavit by Trooper Michael Shelley, describing the activities that led to Griffin’s indictment.

According to Shelley’s affidavit, Griffin’s girlfriend called the Alaska State Troopers on April 21st. She reported that she had found two memory cards in one of Griffin’s socks while doing laundry. Shelley says that Griffin’s girlfriend viewed the files on the cards and discovered videos of her younger sister undressing before showering. The time stamps on the videos were July of 2014, which court documents say means that the female pictured was seventeen at the time.

Shelley says in his affidavit that the videos also show a man, in one instance “clearly” identifiable as Griffin, placing a camera in the bathroom before the unidentified minor entered to shower.

Shelley says he contacted the female shown in the videos and confirmed that she was a minor at the time she was filmed, and that the filming was done without her consent.

Trent Griffin faces three counts of possession of child pornography and five counts of indecent viewing or photography. Each charge is a Class C Felony, and carries a maximum sentence of five years.

The eight indictments were filed on May 15th, and the trial call is scheduled for later this summer.

Talkeetna River Dam Project could have preliminary license revoked

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A required progress report on the proposed Talkeetna River Dam is overdue, according to the federal agency that licenses large energy projects.

On Monday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission notified Glacial Energy, LLC that the first six-month progress report on the proposed project is past due. In its letter, FERC says that failure to file the required reports is grounds for cancellation of the permit, and that the cancellation of the Talkeetna dam project’s permit is “probable.”

The Talkeetna River dam proposal is separate from the much larger Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project, which is also undergoing a licensing process with FERC.