4-wheeler, cigarettes spark fires

Posted: Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Though rain began to fall Monday after several weeks of hot, dry weather, the Alaska Division of Forestry has announced a burn ban on the Kenai Peninsula remains in effect until further notice.

The ban prohibits open burning throughout the western peninsula until further notice. Burn barrels still are allowed, and campfires are acceptable, given that they are lit in dirt, sand or gravel areas and completely extinguished before being abandoned.

According to a press release from the division, the ongoing summer weather has led to extremely dry brush areas that ignite easily.

The division responded to two such fires on the peninsula during the past weekend.

On Saturday, a four-wheeler ignited a fire among tall vegetation and downfallen trees along a logging trail near Falls Creek Road. The fire destroyed the four-wheeler and burned about two-tenths of an acre before a division helicopter crew and civilians were able to contain it. The fire was reportedly extinguished Sunday.

Also, on Sunday, discarded cigarettes started a fire on Trout Lane in Sterling. As temperatures and winds increased, the fire spread to surrounding brush and tree litter then to a small stack of logs, according to the press release.

Residents near the fire called 911, and Forestry, as well as Central Emergency Services, responded, extinguishing the blaze just before it reached a large slash pile.

The division reminds residents that failure to obey a burn ban, as well as negligent behavior that leads to a wildfire, is a crime. Offenders may face criminal penalties and be held responsible for the cost of suppressing the fire.

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