Fire season heating up

Blazes battled near Longmere Lake, Homer

Posted: Friday, April 29, 2005

A tall column of smoke attracted the attention of hundreds of motorists on the Sterling Highway near Longmere Lake on Wednesday evening and brought a quick response from Central Emergency Service firefighters.

The fire was one of two to crop up in the past two days, the other reported Thursday in Homer.

Twelve firefighters managed to get the small Longmere Lake forest fire under control within 20 minutes of receiving the first call at 5:55 p.m. No injuries were reported.

According to Jack Anderson, CES firefighter and paramedic, a man who was planning to burn a brush pile in the thickly wooded Birch Hill neighborhood of Sterling was creating a fire break around the pile, when grass he was igniting quickly burned out of control.

A number of 50-foot spruce and birch trees caught fire and the blaze consumed about one acre of trees and brush.

CES responded with one fire engine, two brush trucks and a water tanker, bringing the fire under control by 6:13 p.m. and having it out by 6:57 p.m., according to Anderson.

Although a dozen homes dot the Birch Hill area, none was affected by the fire. Anderson said two snowmachines and a motorcycle were damaged.

Anderson said the man who started Wednesday's blaze did have tools at hand and tried to control the fire, "but it got away from him."

Some nearby neighbors also tried to help the man without success.

He said burn permits are not required yet, but will be as of Sunday.

Homeowners planning to burn brush piles after that should contact the Alaska Division of Forestry for a permit if they live outside Soldotna city limits, and CES for a permit if they are within the city limits. In Kenai, contact the Kenai Fire Department for a permit, and in North Kenai and Nikiski, call the Nikiski Fire Department.

On the southern peninsula a brush fire ignited about 19 miles east of Homer on Thursday afternoon, sending a thick column of smoke visible from the Homer Spit into the sky over Kachemak Bay.

Two fire units from the Alaska Division of Forestry re-sponded to the scene near Basargin Road where the fire had spread to involve about four acres of beetle-killed spruce and grassland.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Besides the two units and six forestry division personnel on scene, both the Homer Volunteer Fire Department and the Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Medical Service Area sent brush engines to the seen.

Winters said he was not sure how many firefighters responded from Homer and Anchor Point.

"The winds are favorable for fire suppression," Winters said, adding they were from the southwest to the west.

He said as of around 3 p.m. there had been no reports of complications as a result of wind.

Weather in the Kachemak Bay area has been warm and dry for the past three days.

Forestry fire management officers advise people to pay close attention to weather and wind conditions before lighting any fires.



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