Fire destroys public use cabin on Kenai Peninsula

Posted: Friday, June 13, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) Fire destroyed a federal public use cabin on the Kenai Peninsula and authorities are investigating whether arsonists are to blame.

The cabin at Finger Lakes in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge about 10 miles northeast of Soldotna burned sometime between June 1 and Monday, said supervisory ranger Bill Kent on Thursday.

The cabin was built in the early 1960s to support government researchers. Close to the shore of the most northeastern of the three Finger Lakes, it sat only a mile from Swanson River Road and had a history of vandalism, Kent said.

In the last week of May, a work crew had stored materials at the site, preparing to replace the cabin's sill logs. Kent said the replacement logs, stored close to the cabin, were slightly scorched.

''That thing burned hot,'' he said.

The cause of the fire is unknown, Kent said. Refuge law enforcement officers and Alaska State Troopers are investigating.

The refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is developing a cabin management plan. It has at least nine public use cabins, Kent said.

Refuge managers are now considering whether to replace the Finger Lakes cabin and, if so, whether to build it somewhere more difficult to vandalize, he said.

The Finger Lakes cabin was popular, especially with winter visitors who reached it on snowshoes or skis, Kent said.

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