Cooper Landing crews work on containment

  • By MEGAN PACER and KELLY SULLIVAN
  • Tuesday, June 23, 2015 7:17pm
  • News

Friday, 11:30 a.m.:

The Juneau Lake fire near Cooper Landing is now estimated at 580 acres, while the Stetson Creek fire has held steady.

Public Information Officer Meg Cicciarella said work on both fires has remained the same over the last few days.

“(They’re) still mopping up and securing the perimeter,” she said.

The Stetson Creek fire is 70 percent contained, and the Juneau Lake fire is 55 percent contained. There are 114 personnel total assigned to the fires.

Cicciarella said firefighters will continue working toward better containment of each fire’s perimeter, then move to the center of the fires to ensure they are burning itself out.

“They do this mop up which is going so many feet in toward, let’s say, the center of the fire … sometimes it’s 100 feet and sometimes it’s 300 feet,” Cicciarella said. “The idea is that when you go in that far there’s nothing left because the fire has consumed all the fuel.”

Public Information Officer Jean Goad said that because each fire is different, complete containment and perimeter lines are not always needed. Fires that run into natural barriers, for example, are already contained in some areas.

“On the Juneau Lake fire, they won’t have a containment line around the whole thing,” she said. “There’s one section that’s burning into a snow bank.”

According to a press release from the United States Department of Agriculture, crews are also working to remove extra supplies and equipment from the area. Management of the fires will be returned to the Chugach National Forest on Sunday.

Thursday, 5:40 p.m.:

Containment continues to improve on the Stetson Creek and Juneau Lake fires.

Public Information Officer Jean Goad, with the incident command team, said the Stetson Lake fire is now 70 percent contained, and the Juneau Lake fire is 55 percent contained. She said cooler weather conditions do play a role in progress on the fires.

“The weather does help when it’s a little more humid and it’s not likely to burn,” Goad said. “And we’re expecting more of the same over the next couple of days.”

There are 111 total personnel working on the Cooper Landing area fires, and Goad said the command team will reevaluate their needs daily.

No additional information is available about the firefighter who was injured by a bear Monday, she said.

Thursday, 12:50 p.m.:

According to a press release from the United States Department of Agriculture, some cabin and campground closures caused by the Cooper Landing fires will be lifted soon.

Cooper Creek South campground near the Stetson Creek fire will reopen on Saturday, the release states. The Romig, Trout Lake and Swan recreational cabins near the Juneau Lake fire will also open on Saturday. The Juneau Lake cabin remains closed, the release states.

Thursday, 9 a.m.:

Containment has increased on both the Stetson Creek and Juneau Lake fires.

According to a press release from the United States Department of Agriculture, as of Wednesday night the Stetson Creek fire and Juneau Lake fire were contained to 65 percent and 45 percent, respectively.

Public Information Officer Meg Cicciarella said increased containment only comes with time and with continued work on the lines of a fire’s perimeter.

“The weather has helped, because when it’s hotter the smoke or areas of heat that aren’t as obvious in damper conditions, you can work with them better,” Cicciarella said.

The Stetson Creek fire is still reported at 212 acres, and the Juneau Lake fire is still reported at 573 acres. There are 116 total personnel assigned to these fires, along with a Type 3 helicopter, according to the release.

The release states the Stetson Creek fire is considered what firefighters call a “dirty burn,” meaning the fuel and organic matter has burned partially and unevenly. This created the potential for interior areas of the fire to reignite.

The incident command team in charge of the Card Street fire initiated a controlled burn on Wednesday of a 2,000-acre are that had burned unevenly, so as to eliminate the chance it could reignite. Cicciarella said that method has not yet been discussed in relation to the Cooper Landing fires.

According to the release, there is high, active fire on the southeast corner of the Juneau Lake fire, but it is expected to run into a snow bank and burn out. Cicciarella said natural barriers found in areas with more elevation essentially create part of the containment lines for the firefighters.

“When you have fire that runs into natural barriers like rocks or like snow, certainly you’re not going to forget about that, but you can move on to other things,” she said. “It’s certainly helpful to the containment efforts when you have natural areas that you’re dealing with instead of areas where you have to be cutting the line.”

The firefighter injured by a bear Monday evening will return from being treated for minor bites in Anchorage today. Cicciarella said there is no additional information about the incident at this time.

Wednesday, 10:15 a.m.:

Firefighters in the Cooper Landing area have made progress containing both the Stetson Creek and Juneau Lake fires.

Public Information Officer Jean Goad said cooler weather has been of help to the firefighters. The Stetson Creek fire is now 60 percent contained and the Juneau Lake fire is 40 percent contained. Their sizes remain 212 acres and 573 acres, respectively.

“Once they get the line in, they’re going to start working back to do mop up,” Goad said. “They’re putting out hot spots just to make it secure.”

Goad said firefighters are working to protect “high resource values” in the area, including the campgrounds. She said putting out hot spots and securing fire perimeters is important to prevent the chance of materials reigniting.

“It’s really important in this district because fire is not usual here, and so there’s not a lot of firefighters on staff all the time like they would be in other areas,” Goad said.

Goad said the firefighter injured Monday by a bear while working on the Juneau Lake fire is still in Anchorage. No further information about the incident is available at this time, she said.

No other injuries have been reported.

Tuesday, 4:40 p.m.:

Both fires in the Cooper Landing are better contained than on Monday.

A press release from the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service states the Stetson Creek fire is 55 percent contained, while the Juneau Lake fire is 35 percent contained.

Public Information Officer Meg Cicciarella said work continued as planned for both fires throughout Tuesday.

“They are still out there on the line,” Cicciarella said. “They’re working to increase their containment percentage.”

Cicciarella confirmed the firefighter injured Monday by a bear was male, but no further information about the incident is available at this time.

Cicciarella said a Temporary Flight Restriction is still in effect for areas over both fires.

Tuesday, 12:15 p.m.:

There is no status update for the firefighter who was airlifted to Anchorage following an encounter with a bear Monday evening.

Public Information Officer Meg Cicciarella said the incident occurred around 8:30 or 9 p.m., and that the firefighter walked about a mile from where the encounter happened to where the helicopter was waiting. She said no other injuries have been reported at this time.

Work on both the Stetson Creek and Juneau Lake fires will continue as planned.

“They’re continuing with their mop-up activities,” Cicciarella said. “They’re continuing to put in fire lines to contain it where necessary.”

Cicciarella said a Temporary Flight Restriction is still in place for flights over either fire.

Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.:

The Stetson Creek and Juneau Lake fires are holding steady at 50 percent and 30 percent containment, respectively.

Public Information Officer Meg Cicciarella said there are no new size estimates for either fire. The Stetson Creek fire was last reported as being 212 acres, and the Juneau Lake fire was last reported at 573 acres.

According to a press release from the USDA Forest Service for Chugach National Forest, lower temperatures and higher humidity levels helped firefighters in their efforts to establish lines on the southeast section of the Stetson Creek fire and on the west and south sections of the Juneau Lake fire.

In another release from the United State Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, the first injury sustained through working with the fires was reported. The release states that a firefighter encountered a bear while fighting the Junueau Lake fire, and sustained minor injuries. According to the release, the firefighter was airlifted by a LifeMed helicopter to Anchorage and is “undergoing standard treatment for animal bites.”

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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