Crews focus on containment for area fires

Management of the Card Street fire will transition back to local crews on Wednesday, said Max Konkright, public information officer with the current incident management team.

Until then, he said crews will continue with mop-up activities and rehabilitation of lines on the fire’s perimeter. The Card Street fire is 70 percent contained and is 8,876 acres.

Konkright said some people might tend to think that because they can’t see flames, the fire is out and work is winding down. He said many areas retain enough heat to restart the fire, which requires continued vigilance.

“We’re patrolling for spots. We’re out there available for whatever happens,” Konkright said. “The challenge is finding the hot spots that don’t have flames.”

The total number of personnel on the fire has been reduced to about 229, Konkright said. Some are “timing out” on their work on the Card Street fire, while others are merely taking a break. Firefighters are required to rest every 14 days, Konkright said.

“Most of them are being reassigned to other fires in Alaska,” Konkright said. “We actually have a crew here that’s going to R&R (for) one day.”

Konkright said there have been 17 minor injuries reported since the management team from Washington took over around June 20. They include a crushed finger, a cut leg, muscle strains and other minor illnesses.

“We’ve had a (few get) sick,” Konkright said. “We’ve had a couple bee stings that took people off the line because we were concerned about their airways.”

Of the 17 injured firefighters, seven have been transported to Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna, and only one firefighter has not been cleared to return to work.

When local management takes over operation of the fire on Wednesday, Konkright said he expects there will be about another week of work ahead of them. This will consist of more rehabilitation and mop-up.

“It’s just checking those spots and making sure everything hot is found,” Konkright said.

Rehabilitation efforts will not begin on the Cooper Landing area fires until they are 100 percent contained, said Morgan Warthin, public information officer with the Chugach National Forest.

“Those rehab efforts are suppression and repair focused,” Warthin said. “And because the fires have not received 100 percent containment yet, we are not focused on rehab yet.”

The Stetson Creek fire is 90 percent contained, and the Juneau Lake fire is 80 percent contained. Warthin said waiting to begin rehabilitation of the area makes sense from a safety and operation standpoint.

Instead, crews will continue mop-up activities for both fires, working from the outside in, Warthin said.

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

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