CES crews lend hand on Kenai Lake blaze

Posted: Tuesday, July 03, 2001

Through requests from federal and state fire officials, Central Emergency Services has sent crews to help with the Kenai Lake Fire. Five medics and firefighters are on duty there, now.

Two others have already cycled through, according to CES Fire Chief Len Malmquist.

"Since we do not have a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Forest Service, we asked they route their request through State Forestry, who we do have a mutual aid agreement," he said.

He said CES responds when needed, as long as the home front is covered. CES teams have in the past responded to fires in Delta and Big Lake. He said five personnel at a time is all he could afford to send right now, considering how dry and dangerous fire conditions are locally, especially with Independence Day coming up.

Barry Tibbitts, a paramedic/firefighter from Soldotna, spent several days treating injured firefighters and providing crash-rescue support at the heliport near Lawing. He said CES has one of its advanced life support ambulances, a fire engine and a command vehicle on the scene.

"We helped do all kinds of things," he said.

The fire engine patrols the fire line at night after Hotshots were off duty, putting out hot spots that flare up. Tibbitts said he helped transport injured firefighters, including one hit in the head by a fire hose fitting.

Other injuries he saw were cuts from the Pulaskis, or the pickaxes the firefighters use.

"When they start digging trenches and putting in the line, that's what they use," Tibbitts said. "I tell you, those Hotshot crews are what makes those fires. I was impressed."

Other CES personnel at the Kenai Lake Fire include Fire Marshal Gary Hale, engineer John Anderson, firefighter/engineer Gordon Orth, paramedic Dale Lawyer, emergency medical technician John Landess and firefighter/EMT Jim Vinson.

Revelers will start flooding Seward today for the Mount Marathon run and other Independence Day festivities. Tibbitts said motorists will be slowed by decreased speed limits and increased activity by emergency vehicles.

"From the highway you can see the smoke from the areas burned out and the hot spots. It's all visible from the road," he said.

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