Federal officials issue a Ready notification for St. Mary’s and Pitkas Point as fire spreads within 5 miles of the communities
Federal officials issued a Ready notification for residents in St. Mary’s and Pitkas Point as a tundra fire spread within five miles of the lower Yukon River communities. The warning from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) urges residents to pack essential belongings, like prescriptions and important documents, and plan a way to leave the communities if evacuation is needed.
The fire spread about two miles closer to the community on Friday, June 10, mostly driven by 30 mph wind gusts across dry, dead grass, according to the BLM.
Over 700 people live in St. Mary's and Pitkas Point. A road connects the two communities. About 80 residents chose to fly from St. Mary’s to Bethel on Thursday, June 9, and about 60 followed on Friday, June 10. The flights are being coordinated by Tribes, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC), and regional airline Yute Commuter Service.
The people who chose to leave are mostly Elders, people with medical issues, and mothers with young children. They are being housed in Bethel at the National Guard Armory and Gladys Jung Elementary School. YKHC is testing everyone who arrives for Covid-19. Some people are choosing to stay with family or friends in Bethel or travel on to Anchorage.