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Fire crews battle Funny River blaze

Posted: Tuesday, July 07, 2009

It would have been tough to miss the large smoke plume that began rising toward the sky late Sunday afternoon, emanating from a wildland fire that originated off of Funny River Road.

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Photo Courtesy Dave Laforest, Central Emergency Services
Photo Courtesy Dave Laforest, Central Emergency Services
Firefighters work to contain a blaze that began off of Ashley Avenue Fire, off Lake Road, off Funny River Road, on Sunday afternoon. The fire was up to 9.8 acres as of Monday, but the Alaska Division of Forestry expected to have it contained by the end of the day.

"The Ashley Avenue Fire started at 3:15 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, off Lake Road, off Funny River Road," said Sharon Roesch, fire prevention officer with the Alaska Division of Forestry.

Forestry firefighters, as well as Kenai National Wildlife Refuge crews, Central Emergency Services, Kenai Fire Department and a Denali Crew responded to the fire with engines, three fixed-wing aircraft and two helicopters. Three loads of retardant were dropped aerially, as well as several buckets of water.

"As of Monday morning, the Ashley Fire is 9.8 acres in size and 40 percent contained, with hose lay established completely around the perimeter," Roesch said.

Twenty-eight firefighters continued work the fire throughout the day and complete containment was expected by Monday evening.

Initially reported by a local resident as an escaped debris burn, Roesch said this has not been proven and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

While suppression efforts for the Ashley Avenue Fire were swift, refuge fire officers are monitoring the Shanta Creek Fire that is burning in a limited suppression area north of Tustumena Lake.

According to Roesch, as of Sunday evening the Shatna Creek Fire was up to 120 acres in size and burning in an easterly direction toward the Tustumena benchlands.

From Kasilof, on Sunday, a smoke column was visible to the east, and from Soldotna, visible to the south. It may be visible again for the first half of the week.

For more information on the Shanta Creek Fire, call the refuge at 260-5994.

Due to continued dry weather and a forecast for gusty, afternoon winds throughout the week, Forestry has suspended the use of permits for open burning for the Kenai Peninsula. Burning in barrels will not be allowed during the suspension.

However, small cooking and warming fires in established fire pits are allowed, but individuals should remember fire danger is high and use extreme caution. No one should light any type of fire during windy conditions, Roesch said.

For more information, call Forestry at 262-4124.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.



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