Stories Told From McKinley Fire

Stories Told From McKinley Fire

The McKinley Fire started near milepost 91 of the Parks Highway in Willow on Aug. 17, 2019. On the night of Aug. 18, the extremely fast-moving wildfire destroyed 52 primary residences and 84 outbuildings. It consumed 3,288 acres.

Amanda Byrd, ACEP’S chief storyteller, was in Willow last week assisting the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Jen Schmidt and UAF’s Naomi Hutchins with a video about the fire’s lessons. They filmed interviews with residents directly affected by the fire and with Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry staff who managed and fought the fire.

The stories will contribute to a 3- to 5-minute video on how to follow FireWise program guidelines and stay safe.

The work is part of the Fire and Ice project funded by the Alaska National Science Foundation Established Program to Stimulate Competitve Research (EPSCoR). Fire and Ice is a five-year effort to investigate changes to fire behavior and risk in Alaska’s boreal forest. For more information on this segment of Fire and Ice, contact Jen Schmidt at


Amanda Byrd and Jen Schmidt interview Trevor DoBell-Carlsson, forest stewardship manager for Alaska Division of Forestry. Photo by Mike Mathers.