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Fox Creek blaze tops 10,000 acres

Posted: Friday, July 15, 2005

 

  Smoke from the 10,000-acre Fox Creek Fire rises above a pond near Clam Gulch on Thursday. The fire has more than doubled in size since Wednesday. Photo by Matt Tunseth

Smoke from the 10,000-acre Fox Creek Fire rises above a pond near Clam Gulch on Thursday. The fire has more than doubled in size since Wednesday.

Photo by Matt Tunseth

A fire burning in a remote area south of Tustumena Lake doubled in size to more than 10,000 acres Thursday.

Fire information officer Brett Ricker said Thursday that four Type-I fire crews from elsewhere in the state were on their way to the blaze, which is burning in an area thick with beetle-killed spruce trees.

The fire originally was burning in a limited suppression area, but because of its rapid spread, Ricker said it was determined to begin suppression efforts.

"(Fire managers) have some points on the map where they were going to start looking at some options," Ricker said. "It's beginning to encroach on those points."

According to a press release issued by State Forestry, the plan is to try and keep the fire burning north of the Crooked Creek drainage. The fire is approximately three miles east of a 17,500-acre area that burned in 1996, and the release said the incident command team also is looking at ways to keep it from moving past the Crooked Creek fire scar.

Crews were not yet on the ground Thursday — partially because of the hazardous nature of the blaze, which is burning hot and fast.

"Those fuels are really dry," she said.

The fire has grown rapidly, going from around 400 acres Tuesday to more than 5,000 by Wednesday afternoon. By comparison, the King County Creek Fire — the peninsula's first large fire of the season — burned just over 10,000 acres before it was declared 100 percent contained Monday.

Ricker said the fire is most active on its northwest front, despite winds blowing from that direction Thursday.

Ricker stressed that no homes or other structures are threatened at this time. The Caribou Hills, a popular winter recreation area dotted with cabins, is located south of the fire, but

Ricker said the fire was not moving in that direction Thursday.

In a scene reminiscent of earlier in the month, a large column of smoke and ash could be seen rising from the central peninsula Thursday, but most communities weren't affected because the wind was blowing in a southerly direction.

Homer and the extreme southern peninsula were the areas getting the worst of the smoke Thursday, in stark contrast to Wednesday, when heavy smoke was reported in Ninil-chik, Clam Gulch, Anchor Point and even Kasilof.

Conditions in Ninilchik were clear and warm Thursday, letting Minnesota tourist John Nemas enjoy the view of Cook Inlet.

"It was really heavy smoke," Nemas said. "Today it's been just like you see it — nice."

The Fox Creek Fire was reported to authorities Monday. It is believed to have been caused by a lightning strike.



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