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Wildfire contained near Caribou Lake

Posted: May 5, 2014 - 8:52pm

A wildfire that grew to 12 acres near Caribou Lake over the weekend took the full resources of the Division of Forestry before being contained Sunday night.

Darren Finley, fire prevention officer for the Division of Forestry said the fire, which started Friday four miles southwest of Caribou Lake, was human-caused and is under investigation.

Caribou Lake is on the southern Kenai Peninsula, about 25 miles northeast of Homer.

The location of the fire made access difficult, so aerial support was called in to transport the Pioneer Peak Hot Shots, a crew of 20 highly trained firefighters from Palmer and helicopters dumped water on the fire, Finley said. The area is being monitored to make sure no hot spots remain and doesn’t restart.

“We pulled all our resources off the fire at the end of their shift (Sunday) night,” he said. “They worked systematically to put that fire to bed.”

In all, firefighter crews responded to seven wildfires throughout the Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak Island over the weekend, bringing the official total to 25 this year.

A small grass fire was reported on North Spruce Street in Kenai Sunday. Kenai Fire Department first responded to the human-caused fire and suppressed the fire within minutes, Finley said. Reports of a possible juvenile in the area couldn’t be confirmed and the case is under investigation, he said.

“It is hard to pinpoint what started the fire,” Finley said. “If we don’t have enough evidence, instances like this are classified as unknown.”

Two separate fire calls on Kodiak Island combined for half an acre before the Women’s Bay Volunteer Fire Department extinguished both fires Saturday. Both were human caused with one a beach fire at Pasagshak Bay and the other a small wildfire at Pasagshak Point.

Finley said the No. 1 cause of wildfires on the Kenai Peninsula is from people burning debris or a campfire with an unsafe platform. Having a clear space free of vegetation around the fire will decrease the chance of it spreading.

The Division of Forestry responded to three incidents of illegal burns over the weekend where people were burning trash without a permit. Finley said burning trash is not a good idea. He said people should follow the burn permit requirements.

The AccuWeather forecast calls for clouds and possible rain showers for the next three days in the Soldotna and Kenai area. While rainfall may bring a brief reprieve from high fire danger, Finley said the forestry crews won’t let their guards down.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” he said.

Reach Dan Balmer at daniel.balmer@peninsulaclarion.com

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