Small fires snuffed on peninsula

Posted: Monday, June 17, 2002

Alaska State Forestry firefighters responded to a brush fire Sunday in Beluga, on the west side of Cook Inlet.

The Beluga Fire Department took the initial call reporting a fire in an open area under power lines. The department's hoses were unable to reach the blaze, however, and Nikiski Fire Department was called to help.

The incident was relayed to Forestry at about 2:18 p.m. Sunday.

Fire jumpers who had just arrived at Kenai for pre-positioning responded and contained the fire to one acre. Jumpers were still on scene Sunday afternoon and expected to stay in Beluga overnight extinguishing the burn, said dispatch spokesperson Sharon Roesch.

The cause of the brush fire had not been officially determined Sunday afternoon, but Roesch said the proximity to overhead power lines led fire officials to believe an electrical spark may have triggered the burn.

Firefighters also responded to a smaller fire at a private residence on Tustumena Lake Road late Sunday afternoon.

Forestry received the call at 4:33 p.m., said Tom Marok, also with Forestry dispatch. By 6 p.m., the firefighters, aided by a tanker from Central Emergency Services, had stopped the burn from spreading and were extinguishing the one-quarter acre grass fire.

The cause of the fire had not been determined Sunday afternoon.

Forestry also fought a brush fire in Homer Friday when a controlled burn escaped and escalated to a three-quarter acre fire, burning a woodshed and endangering two nearby houses, Roesch said.

Firefighters from Forestry and Eastland Fire Department saved both houses and extinguished the blaze.

Roesch said low humidity and warm, dry weather contributed to a heightened risk of brush fires this week.

The Kenai Area Office of Alaska State Forestry has suspended use of open burning permits until further notice. The suspension was effective Sunday at midnight.

Campfires and burn barrels do not require a permit and are still allowed, but only under strict guidelines.

Campfires and burn barrels should be located in dirt areas away from any vegetation. Water must be on site to extinguish fires, and all fires must be attended until completely extinguished. All burn barrels must be covered with a metal screen, and burn barrels are not permitted in Kenai city limits. No fires should be lit in windy conditions.

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