Crews working way around fire

Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Three Hot Shot fire crews and one Type 2 fire crew set up a spike camp at the end of Oilwell Road as they continue working to establish a control line around the Fox Creek Fire, which is being allowed to burn on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

The fire was relatively quiet over the weekend, according to fire information officer Tom Kempton, and has burned just over 31,000 acres.

No residential areas or recreational cabins are threatened by the fire at this time.

If weather conditions allowed, fire managers planned to continue firing the line being established from Kolomin Lake south to the Caribou Hills, Kempton said.

Conditions on Monday afternoon consisted of temperatures in the upper 60s to mid-70s, he said, with humidity between 39 and 40 percent.

Kempton said firefighters were dropping chemically charged spheres the size of ping-pong balls from a helicopter, igniting fuels on the ground to create a perimeter that would not be breached should the lightning-caused Fox Creek Fire head toward the line.

He said hand crews also were working with drip torches to light fires on the ground.

"Predominant weather has been moving in from the west pushing smoke up to the Kenai Mountains," Kempton said.

An incident meteorologist assigned to the fire management team was not reporting any inversion conditions, so the smoke could creep over the mountains into populated areas to the east.

Kempton said some smoke in the air in west Kenai Peninsula communities also could be coming from the Irish Channel Fire also being allowed to burn in the refuge. That fire has consumed about 590 acres of brush and hardwoods.

In addition to the ground crews working the Fox Creek Fire, managers are using three helicopters and two CL-215 water-scooping airplanes.

The Hot Shot crews are the Pioneer Peak Type 1 crew, the Idaho Panhandle crew and the Chena Hotshots. The Type 2 crew is the fire crew based in Kenai.

Because the fire is being allowed to burn, fire managers are not posting any of the fire-containment percentages customarily used to measure firefighting efforts.

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