Lime Village is safe at the moment from a growing wildfire. Across the river, hotshot crews are setting burnout fires and working to protect structures belonging to residents. At 78 thousand acres, the fire is still expanding.
Flames reached as high as 20 feet Wednesday as the fire stretched north. It burned 40 thousand acres in a 24 hour period. To the south, it reached as close as 3 and half miles from the Stony River where Lime Village sits on the opposite side. Fire officials don’t expect the fire to jump the river. Over the past couple days, crews have set burnout fires that have already burned a 1 mile perimeter from the river going north. Francis Mitchell is a Public Information officer with the division of Forestry in McGrath.
"They have been successful at this point at holding that line on the north side of the Stoney River, near Lime Village. It's not right there at this point, it's back from the river a ways because of the back burns. The village seems to be secure at this time," said Mitchell.
The state says 12 miles of fire line was established from airplane ignition, and hotshot crews added a quarter mile fire line by digging near the river. 51 fire crew members have been flown in protect the town, along with a few structures north of the river. 25 residents were in Lime Village at last check. One elder left the community this week, but the vast majority of people are staying in place to protect the community.
"The fire is large fire, it is still burning to the north. Winds and other factors could make a change. At this point, there is a plan to keep a crew there to keep the fire contained north of the village," said Mitchell.
Southwest Alaska has enjoyed a small break from the unseasonably hot and dry weather, but at 78 thousand acres, the Lime Hills fire is not slowing down.
"There's no amount of rain predicted that's going to dampen that fire relative significantly. If the humidity rises, then the fire will not burn as intensely . There's no expectation that the fire is going to be out in the near future. It's so large and has been burning so aggressively," said Mitchell.
To the north, the fire jumped across the Swift River in several places Wednesday. Crews planned to continue burnout operations Thursday.