Fire danger remains high on peninsula

Posted: Sunday, July 11, 2004

The 46-acre fire that broke out along the Kenai River Trail on Monday evening was been officially declared ontained by the Alaska Division of Forestry, but much work is still being done in the area.

"The fire is 100 percent contained and controlled. The center of the burn area is still smoldering and smoking, but there is no active flame," said Lori Halcro, information officer for the Alaska Division of Forestry.

Halcro added the "mop-up" procedures continued on Saturday and into today, with the plan to establish a 100-foot perimeter around the burn area. This perimeter is being saturated with water and cleared of potential flammable debris by firefighters with hand tools.

Skilak Lake Loop Road remains closed from Jim's Landing to the Hidden Creek Trail head and one firefighting crew remains in the area for standby measures. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to take over monitoring the fire late this evening.

Two miles of hose is currently strung out to fight the fire.

The restriction on air space has been lifted, but pilots should be advised that a forestry helicopter will be used today to sling loads of hoses and fire equipment off the fire line.

"We want the public to be very aware of the extremely high fire danger on the Kenai Peninsula," said Halcro, emphasizing the public needs to pay particular attention to fire safety rules in effect.

For one, the burning permit suspension is still in place, so individuals may not activate their burn permits. Cooking and warming fires only are allowed in cleared areas of dirt, sand, gravel or on the beach well away from vegetation.

Campfires must be attended at all times, and individuals must put the fire out, cold to the touch, before leaving the site.

It is illegal to discard any burning material into vegetated lands. This includes cigarettes and fireworks. The latter are illegal in the Kenai Peninsula.

A person who lights a fire that results in fire suppression efforts may be liable for payment of those cost as well as possible criminal penalties.

Restrictions for Chugach National Forest also have been released as a result of the fire danger, including:

Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire or charcoal grill is prohibited except in designated sites with an approved containment device installed for such use, such as fire grates or other installed containment devices constructed by the Forest Service.

Smoking also is prohibited, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed campground or recreational site. The only exceptions are areas at least three feet in diameter, which are barren or cleared of all flammable material.

It also is prohibited for anyone to use any internal or external combustible engine without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order.

The fire restrictions for Chugach National Forest begin at the boundary just southeast of Girdwood at the forest entrance sign on the Seward Highway. The southern boundary is just north of Seward and the western boundary is along the Sterling Highway at the Russian River campground.

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