A two-acre fire in the Willow area north of Anchorage that was first reported on Sunday afternoon has grown tremendously in size and is now an estimated 6,500 acres on Monday. The blaze has been dubbed the Sockeye Fire, named after the avenue in Willow where the fire was initially sparked. The fire was human-caused, but, the exact cause is unknown.
The fast growing blaze has prompted the evacuation of 1,700 homes in the area. Initially, officials had set up an evacuation center at the community center in Willow, but as the fire progressed, even the evacuation center had to be evacuated to another location. The new evacuation center is now the Houston Middle School. Another center was set up at the Wasilla Fish Hook Bible Camp.
The fire has jumped the Parks highway, and resulted in the shut down of the Highway at mile 77. Drivers are asked to avoid the area. The highway is expected to remain closed at least until tomorrow.
Fairbanks and Palmer tankers are dropping water on the blaze and more aircraft have arrived at the scene to fight the fire along with the growing number of firefighters on the ground.