Seventy percent humidity and wind speeds of five miles per hour allowed firefighters to get on top of the Caribou Hills blaze Monday. After fighting what appeared to be a losing battle for several days, firefighters were able to mop up 200 feet beyond the perimeter.
Because of the brighter outlook, residents will be able to access Oil Well Road in order to check on their cabins.
“We’re going to be opening the road Tuesday at 7 p.m. to Wednesday at 7 a.m.,” said Kris Eriksen, fire information officer for the Alaska Division of Forestry. Eriksen said the road will close again at 7 a.m. the next morning to avoid traffic conflicts. “You can still be there, just stay off the road,” she said.
The fire was at 55,000 acres Monday morning, Fire Information Officer Bob Evenson said, burning 53 cabins and residences and 79 outbuildings. Firefighters are still focused on fighting the west side of the blaze near Deep Creek, as well as mopping up, checking for hot spots and protecting structures in the Ninilchik 40 subdivision.
“The bosses were quite pleased with what they got done (Sunday),” Evenson said, “and there hasn’t been any extension to speak of.”
In order to address rumors that Kasilof residents would have to evacuate because of the fire, Eriksen unveiled a contingency plan that any community within the peninsula would be able to use, at a public meeting Monday night.
“Sometimes it requires something to happen as a catalyst,” she said. “We do this almost everywhere we respond to a fire.”
At the meeting, Deputy Incident Commander Rob Allen, with the Division of Forestry, tried to calm the fears of Kasilof residents who packed into Tustumena Elementary School’s gym. Allen said he feels comfortable with where the fire is at and doesn’t expect it to come any closer to the Kasilof area. Currently it’s about 10 miles from Kasilof.
Allen said the fire is 40 to 50 percent contained, including the area closest to Caribou Lake along the southeast corner of the fire and the area between Deep Creek and Rocky base camp. He expected it to be contained between Jessie’s Trail and Crooked Creek by today.
For more information and updates on the Caribou Hills fire:
· Visit the borough Office of Emergency Management Web site at www.borough.kenai.ak.us/emergency; or
· Call (907) 714-2484.
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