Update, 8:30 p.m.: Homer Electric Association plans to restore power to the Lilac Lane area by Sunday night, according to a release from the company.
Though Cook Inlet View Drive and Wells Way were reopened Sunday afternoon, they were shut down again as Enstar Natural Gas Co. continues to check lines in the area for potential gas leaks, according to a release from the Kenai Police Department.
Update, 2:15 p.m.: Residents can return to their homes if they live on Cook Inlet View or Wells Way.
The two roads have been reopened following house fires on Lilac Lane Sunday morning, according to a Kenai Police Department press release. Lilac Lane is still closed.
The four house fires on Lilac Lane have been mostly put out, said Kenai Police Chief Gus Sandahl.
“They might still be smodlering but as of hours ago they were mostly out,” he said.
Sandahl said that if residents returning to their homes smell gas, they should call Kenai Police at 283-7879, who will contact Enstar Natural Gas Co.
Update, 1 p.m.: The Alaska Department of Transportation will begin preliminary repairs to a section of Kalifornsky-Beach road on Monday.
About 150 feet of the northbound lane of the highway cracked as a result of the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that was felt on the Kenai Peninsula early Sunday morning, said Shannon McCarthy, public information officer for the department’s central region. The section of road “dropped” down by about a foot, she said.
That lane of the highway was closed down by the department, McCarthy said.
The Department of Transportation will grind up and fill in the section of Highway starting Monday, and will make a permanent repair to the road this summer when weather is better, McCarthy said. Typically, the federal government cooperates with the state department to help pay for emergency repairs like this one, she said.
Update: At least two or three of the four houses that caught fire in the wake of Sunday’s earthquake are total losses, said Lt. David Ross with the Kenai Police Department.
The homes are all located close together on Lilac Lane, where the Kenai Fire Department and Enstar Natural Gas Co. personnel are working in the aftermath of the 7.1 magnitude quake that caused gas explosions.
“I would say all four (have) very severe damage,” Ross said.
No injuries have been reported, he said. Kenai Police are blocking Lilac Lane and Cook Inlet View, as well as keeping people informed and supporting the Kenai Fire Department, Ross said.
“Right now the fires are just about out, so a lot of it is relying on Enstar and when they feel like the gas is dissipated and under control,” Ross said.
A few dozen residents are at a temporary shelter at the Kenai National Guard Armory, where several businesses have donated food and supplies, said Scott Walden, director of the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Office of Emergency Management.
American Red Cross personnel are expected to arrive from the Mat-Su Valley to take over managing the shelter around 2 p.m., he said.
“We’ve been in touch with the state Emergency Operations Center since the first minute of the earthquake, and that was one of the things we initiated immediately was to have Red Cross come down to help with sheltering,” Walden said. “They don’t have a great presence on the peninsula right now but they’re really good about coming down from that far.”
Those at the shelter will be able to work with the Red Cross to figure out temporary and long-term housing solutions, Walden said.
Update: As of 10:45 a.m., four homes on Lilac Lane have been affected by fires, said Lindsay Hobson, communications manager for Enstar Natural Gas Co.
Gas has been shut off to that area and Enstar is working to make some kind of temporary fix to provide other residents in the area with service by the end of the day, Hobson said.
No injuries have been reported, she said.
Hobson encouraged residents to call 1-844-SMELL-GAS if they smell, hear or suspect a gas leak.
Update: 10:30 a.m.: The magnitude of the early morning earthquake felt on the Kenai Peninsula Sunday is resting at 7.1, said Sara Meyer, a research technician with the Alaska Earthquake Information Center.
Meyer said it is not uncommon to see several different magnitude estimates following an earthquake.
“We a lot of times underestimate the magnitude just because it takes more data to estimate the magnitude of an earthquake that size,” she said.
The earthquake was caused by two tectonic plates interacting with each other. It happened when the Pacific Plate subducted — or got pulled under — the North American Plate, Meyer said. Aftershocks can be expected for up to a few weeks, she said, though it is unlikely anything will be close to the magnitude of Sunday’s quake.
“We’ve already seen hundreds of aftershocks,” Meyer said.
Update: As of 10 a.m. Sunday, Kenai Police have blocked off access to Lilac Lane and Cook Inlet View Drive.
No one is allowed into the area, said Investigator Paul Cushman at the scene. Members of the Kenai Fire Department and Enstar Natural Gas are still there working after two homes caught on fire in the wake of a 7.1 earthquake felt on the Kenai Peninsula Sunday morning.
Kenai Police Chief Gus Sandahl said the first fire was put out relatively quickly, and that the second house has suffred “severe” damage.
“That one was close to the first one that caught on fire,” Sandahl said.
Per an agreement with Kenai Fire, the Nikiski Fire Deptarment has sent an engine to man the Kenai station while firefighters are still out working, said Kole McCaughey, and engineer with Nikiski Fire.
Update: As of 8:40 a.m. Sunday, crews from Homer Electric Association had restored power to most areas impacted by the earthquake. According to HEA, the quake had knocked the Bernice Lake substation offline, affecting 4,100 utility members in the Nikiski area. An outage affecting 642 members in Kasilof also has been repaired.
HEA is waiting for the OK from Enstar and Kenai Fire Department to restore power in the Lilac Lane area of Kenai. Power also remains out for 128 members near the Kenai airport.
About 20 people in the Lilac Lane area were evacuated due to a natural gas leak following the quake. Fires broke out at two homes. According to Kenai Police Chief Gus Sandahl, no injuries have been reported so far. Evacuees are being sheltered at the Kenai National Guard Armory.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is reporting a lane closure on Kalifornsky Beach Road near the intersection with the Sterling Highway in Kasilof, where the roadway sustained damage during the quake.
According to information on the Alaska Earthquake Information Center website, hundreds of aftershocks have been recorded in the hours after the earthquake. The largest was a magnitude 4.7 at 5:29 a.m. The AEIC says that aftershocks are continuing at a steady rate and can be expected to go on for several months, although the rate of aftershocks should decrease considerably after a couple of weeks.
A magnitude 7.1 earthquake rattled the Cook Inlet region early Sunday morning.
According to the Alaska Earthquake Information Center, the quake hit at 1:30 a.m. and was centered about 60 miles west of Homer and 17 miles north of Augustine Volcano in lower Cook Inlet.