Sayer Road blaze all but out

Posted: Monday, June 18, 2007

Firefighters on Sunday worked to contain a 15-acre wildfire south of Anchor Point.

Incident commander Don Anderson called the Sayer Road fire “100 percent contained” Sunday evening, with a cold and black 100-foot fire break established around the perimeter of the fire, according to a state Division of Forestry press release.

Anderson said crews would inspect the fire area today to look for remaining hot spots. If no hot spots remain, one of the two wildfire crews on the scene will be released. Anderson also expects the fire to be labeled as “controlled” by this afternoon. A final inspection will be conducted Tuesday, at which time remaining firefighters will be released. Forestry will continue to monitor the fire.

On Saturday, the Division of Forestry issued a burn ban for the western Kenai Peninsula, from Cooper Landing to the southern tip of the peninsula. Burning in barrels also has been suspended. According to Forestry, individuals may not conduct any burning of brush, grass or yard debris until a change in weather allows the burn ban to be lifted.

Campfires are permitted, but Forestry officials are urging caution. Campfires must be built in a dirt area with a fire ring cleared of all vegetation, including moss and peat. Water to extinguish a fire must be on site, and any campfire must be attended until it is completely out. Fires should not be started in windy conditions.

The Sayer Road fire, about one mile east of the Sterling Highway, was reported Friday afternoon. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

In a press release, Forestry fire investigator Sharon Roesch cautioned people from trying to fight grass fires, like the Sayer Road fire, by themselves.

“There was a minor female who first reported the Sayer Road fire after trying to put it out with a flip-flop and blistered her hands. The same thing happened Monday on the fire in the Cape Ninilchik area when four minors tried to put our a grass fire themselves and two were injured,” Roesch said. “Grass fires move rapidly and are very dangerous. We’re lucky someone wasn’t injured more seriously in these last two incidents.”

Thirty-four Division of Forestry personnel were working on the Sayer Road fire Sunday, including an initial attack crew from Homer. Anchor Point volunteer firefighters responded, and a pair of Division of Forestry Type II crews, the Gannett Glacier crew and the Yukon crew, augmented the response.

A DC-6 retardant air tanker has been stationed in Kenai. Neither the tanker nor Forestry’s helicopter have been used to fight the fire.

Anderson reported crews were able to make significant progress despite Saturday’s hot, dry conditions, and continued to improve and secure the perimeter of the fire Sunday. Kris Eriksen, a Forestry spokesperson, said the breeze had picked up Sunday but did not hinder firefighting efforts.

“The weather has been very good to us today,” Anderson said Sunday.

“As I was talking to a suppression foreman, he said one of the nice things about having a little wind is if there are any hot spots, they’ll show,” Eriksen said.

Two homes are at the tail end of the fire, but Forestry reported the homes were not threatened because the fire was moving away from the structures.

Anderson said the most active part of the fire was in the interior, along a ridge south of North Fork Road where large timber burned.

Will Morrow can be reached at will.morrow@peninsulaclarion.com.



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