New fire grows

Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2005

Heavy smoke and blowing ash irritated residents of the western Kenai Peninsula on Wednesday after a fire near Tustumena Lake more than doubled in size.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Fox Creek Fire had burned nearly 2,500 acres — up from less than 1,000 on Tuesday.

According to Alaska Division of Forestry fire prevention officer Sharon Roesch, the fire is not actively being fought as it is located in a limited suppression area.

"It's still well inside that area," Roesch said.

Despite the fire's remote location — it's burning approximately 28 miles from Ninilchik and 18 miles from Clam Gulch — Roesch said a Type 2 Management Team is keeping a close watch on the situation.

"They're setting up contingency plans already," she said.

If the fire moves toward homes or structures, Roesch said the team would then begin to consider fire suppression options.

Although the fire isn't currently a threat to homes, Roesch said the wind picked up plenty of smoke Wednesday — most of which got dumped on Ninilchik.

Roesch said residents reported heavy smoke and ash throughout the day.

"The smoke is really bothering residents, and now the ash is falling," she said.

Roesch said smoky conditions are likely to persist until more rain falls on the area.

The National Weather Service is calling for some rain showers over the next few days, but thunderstorms also are a possibility.

Fire managers believe the Tustumena fire was caused by a lightning strike.

It's the second large, lightning-caused fire to hit the inter-ior of the peninsula in the past month.

Earlier this month, the 10,100-acre King County Creek Fire kept crews busy near Skilak Lake.

That blaze also was thought to be caused by lightning, which is normally a rare occurrence on the peninsula.



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