Campfire to blame for Soldotna blaze

Posted: Sunday, June 17, 2007

Firefighters at Central Emergency Services and the Division of Forestry believe a campfire started a brush fire near Redoubt Elementary and Soldotna High School Thursday night.

CES Captain Lesley Quelland, who was the commander on scene, said firefighters had the fire under control within 20 minutes of arrival around 9 p.m. and extinguished it after an hour and a half.

“We responded to a report of smoke and crackling trees between the area of West Redoubt Ave. and West Marydale Ave.,” Quelland said. “We were able to locate the fire on a wooded lot and it had consumed a quarter acre of grass and trees.”

Quelland said a passerby on the bike path near the area called it in, but no one else was in the area save for a few concerned home owners. The Alaska Division of Forestry responded and CES released the scene to them.

“Between CES and the Division of Forestry (we’ll) go out and talk to a few people to see if we can get a witness to confirm what we believe may have originally caused the fire,” Quelland said. “I really had to credit the caller with quick thinking in calling the fire department.”

Steve Scales, suppression foreman with the Division of Forestry, said things were under control when Forestry arrived on scene, but Forestry returned to make sure the fire didn’t flare up.

“It looked quiet,” he said. “No smoke or heat was visible. We’ll do another check for insurance.”

The Kenai Peninsula is in a high fire danger right now, Scales said, which is normal, but could be aggravated by the weather forecast this weekend, which calls for thunderstorms.

“Our big concern is that we haven’t got any precipitation of any substance for quite a while,” he said. “Any time we combine it with winds, we have issues.”

Scales said people need to be more careful with their campfires.

“Normally people are trying to do the right thing and things go bad,” he said. “And you shouldn’t light a campfire on organic matter that’s on the surface anyway.”

Jessica Cejnar can be reached at jessica.cejnar@peninsulaclarion.com.



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