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Alaska wildfire has consumed 6,500 acres and is expected to grow

Alaska wildfire has consumed 6,500 acres and is expected to grow
A state Division of Forestry air tanker battles the Sockeye fire north of Kashwitna Lake on Sunday near Willow, Alaska.The wildfirenorth of Anchorage shut down a key highway and forced the evacuation of 1,700 homes after it mushroomed in size. (Associated Press)

A wildfire outside of Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, has grown to 6,500 acres and has forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes. Dry weather is expected to further fan the flames on Monday, officials said.

The fire, which started along the George Parks Highway near Willow, caused officials to shut down roughly 15 miles of the highway, according to Tim Mowry, a spokesman for the state Division of Forestry. About 1,700 hundred homes are in the fire's evacuation area.

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Forty structures, including 25 homes, had been destroyed by Monday afternoon, he said.

"It was a really fast-moving fire. It just mushroomed really quickly," Mowry said. "It jumped the Parks highway twice and was burning on both sides of the road."

By 2 p.m. local time, state fire officials had not contained any of the blaze.

Monday's forecast called for hot and dry conditions, and Mowry said he expected strong winds would cause the fire to grow.

One firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion, but no other injuries had been reported as of Monday afternoon.

The edge of the blaze is roughly 70 miles outside of Anchorage, but Mowry said the fire would need to cross a body of water to reach the city.

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT on Twitter for breaking news.

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