Long-time Two Rivers resident Mikki Barker drove into parking lot of Two Rivers Lodge with three things on her mind.
The wildfire that raged near her home, her dogs that were inside the home, and whether or not she would be able to get to them.
Barker would not be the only concerned party late Monday afternoon, as the Kaouti Fire raged near 17.5 mile Chena Hot Springs Road, leaving scores of
people unable to proceed further down the road in either direction.
Officials with the Alaska Division of Forestry were first on-scene, and were tasked with not only trying to keep Kaouti from jumping the roadway, but also
moving closer to the popular restaurant that sat a few hundred yards away.
Joe Crup, an employee with Two Rivers Lodge who lives in the immediate area, spoke to News Center 11 at the scene, one he described as "chaotic."
"I've never seen anything like this before in my life," said Crup. "This was not what I anticipated when I decided to clock in for some extra hours....today was
supposed to be my day off."
Two Rivers resident Cameron Carter said his main concern centered around the restaurant, and not his home.
"I live over a couple of hills, so I'm safe," says Carter. "I'm concerned about the Lodge, so I brought my truck and eight thousand gallons of water,
just in case its needed."
Other residents, some too emotional to describe what was happening, reluctantly left the Lodge parking area after Forestry officials, and Alaska State
Troopers informed them that because of the dangers involved, and sudden wind changes, they would have to leave the area.
As of 11 p.m., State Forestry officials have opened traffic along Chena Hot Springs Road, but only with an escort.
Homeowners are also being allowed to access their homes, with the exception of those on the north side of Chena Hot Springs Road between Miles 15 and 17.
Thus far, no structures have burned.
This is still a developing story.
News Center 11 will have more as information becomes available.