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Tyonek fire nears full containment

Posted: May 27, 2014 - 7:35pm  |  Updated: May 27, 2014 - 7:37pm

Firefighter officials said the Tyonek wildfire should be 100 percent contained by the end of Wednesday, nine days after the wind-driven fire was first reported to be moving toward Tyonek.

On Tuesday the fire had spanned 1,906 acres between the villages of Tyonek and Beluga along the shore on the west side of the Cook Inlet, but crews contained about 85 percent of the fire and no growth is expected, said Washington Incident Management Team public information officer Chuck Turley.

Turley said firefighters were confident that full containment lines around the perimeter of the fire would put out any heat that remained. Light but steady rain started Monday night and is in the forecast the next few days, he said.

With 196 personnel assigned to the fire Tuesday, Turley said a large number of resources were reassigned to fight the Funny River Horse Trail wildfire. The crews remaining in Tyonek conducted mop-up duty, or clearing the area around fire containment lines to ensure that nothing is rekindled. A crew with the Mat-Su Division of Forestry and a Type-4 Incident Commander will remain to patrol the fire for an undetermined period of time, he said.

Turley commended the efforts of the first responders, who built a fire line and prevented the fire from reaching the village of Tyonek. The Type 2 incident management team was dispatched from the state of Washington last Thursday.

“The initial attack crews did an outstanding job,” he said. “For as few people as they had they did great work at a critical time.”

Nikiksi firefighters and Beluga volunteer firefighters worked on the ground with bulldozers and put out spot fires.

Turley said firefighters have been appreciative of the support from the Tyonek and Beluga communities in providing supplies and meals for the firefighters.

The Tyonek Native Corporation gathered food donations and supplies for the firefighters and villagers and Kenai Aviation transported the supplies.

“We cannot thank the local community enough for all they did for us,” Turley said. “Their support was extremely helpful.”

The management team held a community meeting in Tyonek Tuesday to inform the residents of the fire suppression activities.

No serious injuries have occurred from the wildfire. Turley said residents have been informed that standing trees weakened by the fire may topple in windy conditions.

Reach Dan Balmer at daniel.balmer@peninsulaclarion.com

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