The Division of Forestry wound up their service in Ninil-chik Monday as a remnant of the Caribou Hills fire burns in the eastern corner of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Forestry also opened Oilwell Road to residents permanently and lifted the air restriction.
"As of 0700 Tuesday morning (Forestry) will transition from a type two team to a type three," said Cheryl Larsen, a fire information officer for the Division of Forestry.
At 55,438 acres, the fire is 76 percent contained, Larsen said. Firefighters will continue to strengthen lines around the perimeter, but will monitor the portion that's in the refuge.
"If the fire were to continue to spread beyond the point that no longer meets the objectives (the refuge) is looking for," Larsen said, "they would bring in a resource management team to evaluate and look at other strategies of dealing with the fire."
Robin West, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge manager, said rather than spend the $1 million to $2 million and risk injury to fight this fire, the refuge will keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't spread.
"It's grown very slightly, but not to any extent," West said, adding that it's running into areas that were burned in 1996 and 2005. "It also has wet, hardwood fuel types it has to move ahead to pick up steam."
While the fire may have been destructive in the Caribou Hills area, West said it clears away bark beetle kill and promotes regrowth.
"If it continues to be dry and cool, we'll see little flare ups (in) the weeks ahead I'm sure," he said.
Although the Kenai Peninsula saw rain on Sunday, Larsen warns people to be careful this Wednesday. Fireworks are prohibited on the Kenai Peninsula, she said, and with the fire danger high on the peninsula, even those shot over water pose a considerable threat.
"The most important thing is prevention," Larsen said.
Gary Hale, fire marshal with Central Emergency Services in Soldotna, said even though fireworks can be had in Houston, they are prohibited everywhere in the Kenai Peninsula Borough and the potential for a grass fire due to fireworks is high.
"When (fireworks) go off, they have a high heat release," Hale said. "The spark from grinding a shovel does not compare to the amount of heat fireworks generate once they're ignited."
Jessica Cejnar can be reached at email@example.com.
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