The Swan Lake Fire can be seen from above on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Wildland Fire Information)

The Swan Lake Fire can be seen from above on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Wildland Fire Information)

Burn suspension for Kenai Peninsula lifted

People can burn small-scale and large-scale organic debris fires with a valid permit

The burn suspension on the Kenai Peninsula was lifted by the Division of Forestry on Monday, following multiple days of high precipitation.

Howie Kent, the fire management officer for the Kenai-Kodiak area, said Tuesday that the widespread rain showers have decreased fire danger on the peninsula.

“We got close to 2 inches of precipitation over the last, probably three or four days now, which allowed that kind of slow, steady rain to get down into the deeper duff layers,” he said.

The duff layer refers to an organic material layer underneath the surface of the soil. Kent said it’s important this layer receives moisture during fire season.

“That’s what was really dry this year,” he said. “Our duff layers were more dry this year than where we saw the drying duff layers in 2019 when we had the Swan Lake Fire.”

The suspension lift now allows people to burn small-scale and large-scale organic debris fires with a valid permit.

Even though the fire season on the Kenai Peninsula has been average, Kent said there still have been 52 blazes recorded. Statewide, however, the season has been above average.

“We burn about 1.2 million acres per year, and right now we’re well over 2 million acres already for the year,” Kent said. Most of those have been in the Interior and in southwest Alaska.

Kent emphasized the importance of tending to burns at all times to avoid the potential of an escaped fire.

To obtain a burn permit, visit https://dnr.alaska.gov/burn/fireareas.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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