Ian Pitzman 
                                This photo of the Caribou Lake fire was taken about 4 p.m. Monday northeast of Homer.

Ian Pitzman This photo of the Caribou Lake fire was taken about 4 p.m. Monday northeast of Homer.

Caribou Lake Fire outside Homer continues to threaten

Swan Lake Fire team will take over fire administration

One fire is nearly contained and another is still growing in size in the wildlands outside of Homer.

The Caribou Lake Fire, which began Monday about 25 miles northeast of Homer, has grown to about 800 acres according to a Thursday morning update on the Alaska Interagency Fire Information Office website. It is about 10% contained.

The North Fork Fire, which started on Sunday evening, is burning about 1.5 miles from the Sterling Highway between Anchor Point and Homer. It was 50% contained as of Thursday morning, said Sam Harrel, a public information office with the Alaska Division of Forestry.

Harrel said crews working on the North Fork Fire hoped to be close to completing a bulldozer line around the fire and reaching full containment by the end of Thursday. Currently fighting the North Fork Fire are water tenders from the Anchor Point Emergency Services and Homer Volunteer Fire Department, the Zigzag Hotshot crew from Washington and Alaska’s Yukon Type 2 Initial Attack Crew, according to the Alaska Interagency Fire Information Office.

The fire has not grown past 59 acres, according to the online update.

“A low-pressure trough approaching from the north will bring little precipitation to the fires but gusty and erratic winds will again challenge containment lines,” the update reads. “Firefighters on both fires will continue to hold the lines they have constructed and improve their perimeters.”

Between 18-26 structures have the potential to be threatened by fire at Caribou Lake, Bureau of Land Management Public Information Officer Bridget Bushue told the Homer News on Wednesday.

Crews currently working on the Caribou Lake Fire include Alaska smokejumpers from the Bureau of Land Management, the Redding Hotshots from California and members from the local Kachemak Emergency Services. These firefighters were slated to continue work on bulldozer lines around the blaze. The most activity on the fire Wednesday was on its western edge and along bulldozer lines along the ridge of the Boxcar Hills, according to the Alaska Interagency Fire Information Office.

“Structure protection measures are being utilized for the homes, cabins and secondary structures around the fire,” the online update reads. “There are no immediate threats to nearby structures and aerial support will once again be available to firefighters on the ground.”

Due to the ongoing threat of the Caribou Lake Fire, administrative control over firefighting operations on that blaze is being transferred to the team currently in charge of administration at the Swan Lake Fire, Harrel said. This change, which will become effective Friday morning, will not result in any changes noticeable to the public or alter firefighting tactics, he said. Rather, having the Swan Lake Fire team take over administration of the Caribou Lake Fire means the crews on the ground will be supported by the team set up in Sterling when it comes to resources and supplies.

The administrative team in Sterling will help crews fighting the southern Kenai Peninsula fires get orders filled and make sure their needs are met when it comes to food, water and supplies, Harrel said. The incident commander in charge of the Swan Lake Fire will also become the incident commander of the Caribou Lake Fire.

People who live on North Fork Road north of that fire and those living along Diamond Ridge Road to the south of the fire are still on a Level 1 “Ready” notice. This means they should be ready for a potential evacuation, but does not mean they should leave currently.

Smoke and haze continues to impact the entire Kenai Peninsula. Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce has declared a disaster emergency throughout the borough due to the number of structures threatened by the fire and the impact smoke is having on transportation on the peninsula. The Sterling Highway has been temporarily closed and reopened several times in the last few days between Sterling and Cooper Landing.

Those communities will continue to see the greatest impacts from smoke, according to a smoke outlook report posted to the Alaska Interagency Fire Information Office website.

“However, the eastern side should see some improvements as smoke is pushed to the west,” the report reads. “Sterling, Soldotna, Kenai to south Homer will see the most smoke (Thursday) which will decrease air quality. Expect smoke to move out to the east (Friday) with another wind shift.”

For more information, call the Alaska Interagency Fire Information Office at 907-356-5511 or visit https://akfireinfo.com/

To get information about fires and other emergency situations, visit the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management at https://kpboem.blogspot.com. To sign up for borough alerts, visit https://alerts.kpb.us/ .

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

This photo of the Caribou Lake fire was taken about 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19, 2019, northeast of Homer, Alaska, whenr Ian Pitzman texted a message reporting the fire to his wife, Stephanie Pitzman, via an inReach satellite communication device. (Photo by Ian Pitzman)

This photo of the Caribou Lake fire was taken about 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19, 2019, northeast of Homer, Alaska, whenr Ian Pitzman texted a message reporting the fire to his wife, Stephanie Pitzman, via an inReach satellite communication device. (Photo by Ian Pitzman)

A map of the North Fork area shows the fire location, number 751, in the southwest corner of section 27 near the Anchor River about 1.5 miles east of the Sterling Highway near miles 164-165. In the Kachemak Emergency Services Area, the fire is off the south end of the North Fork Road between Homer and Anchor Point. (Map provided, Alaska Interagency Fire Information Office)

A map of the North Fork area shows the fire location, number 751, in the southwest corner of section 27 near the Anchor River about 1.5 miles east of the Sterling Highway near miles 164-165. In the Kachemak Emergency Services Area, the fire is off the south end of the North Fork Road between Homer and Anchor Point. (Map provided, Alaska Interagency Fire Information Office)

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