Skilak Lake area fire burns 1,000 acres

Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A wildfire near the southwest corner of the Skilak Lake area has burned 1,000 acres of land within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

According to the Alaska Division of Forestry, the King County Creek fire is believed to have been started by a lightning strike and was reported to fire managers Sunday.

It is burning in a remote area approximately three miles south of the Kenai River and three miles east of the Killey River in a forested area that's a mix of spruce trees and low-lying bog areas.

Fire managers flew over the fire around noon Monday to asses its potential for damage to structures and populated areas. According to Forestry fire prevention officer Sharon Roesch, fire managers plan to construct a fire line from an anchor point at Skilak Lake and work to contain the fire so it won't spread toward populated neighborhoods and cabins in the Funny River, Sterling and Kenai Keys areas. A Type 2 Incident Management Team has been assigned to the fire, as have Hotshot and handheld-tool fire crews and two helicopters.

Roesch said the fire appears to be spreading slowly to the southwest, and light winds are keeping it distant.

"It's not spreading toward any populated areas now," she said.

According to the National Weather Service, winds today are expected to blow in a northeasterly direction. Populated areas in the vicinity of the fire area located to the northwest. However, possible thunderstorm activity also is forecast for this week, and Roesch said thunderstorms could change wind patterns — and how managers approach the fire.

"With a thunderstorm, all bets are off," she said.

Dry conditions and lightning led to another fire being sparked Monday, this one about seven miles southeast of Ninilchik in grass and slash in an open hardwood stand of trees near Clam Creek. Firefighters worked with buckets of water from a helicopter and hand tools to stop the spread of the fire.

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