Fire operation shifts to local personnel

The incident management team from Washington will fly home Thursday and local resources will take over operation of the Card Street fire.

Max Konkright, public information officer for the Washington management team, said local personnel spent Wednesday shadowing the Washington team and were brought up to speed on everything to do with the fire.

“Everything’s going really smooth with the transition,” Konkright said. “It’s a pretty thorough deal. You don’t want to miss anything.”

Konkright said any remaining questions were to be answered at a close-out meeting at 7:30 p.m, Wednesday.

The local management team will take over mop up activities and continue to rehabilitate the land that was disturbed in the process of firefighting.

“They’ll even get probably more in depth with the rehab because they’re going to be here for a while,” Konkright said. “I would assume for the fire part, it’s probably another seven days.”

Konkright said the number of work days left on the Card Street fire will vary depending on weather conditions.

The total number of minor injuries is now up to 19. Konkright said one firefighter was treated Tuesday for an allergic reaction, and returned to work Wednesday.

The Cooper Landing area fires are contained to the point that visitors can utilize the Chugach National Forest for Independence Day activities. However, forest law enforcement will crack down on those who threaten the area by violating the fire and firework restrictions.

The Juneau Lake fire is 80 percent contained and the Stetson Creek fire is 100 percent contained, said Public Information Officer Morgan Warthin. Campfires and stove or charcoal fires are now allowed, but only in designated forest campsites, according to a press release from the United States Department of Agriculture. Warthin said fires are still restricted in dispersed campsites, which she explained as being created by campers and not officially recognized by Chugach National Forest.

“A dispersed campsite would be, for instance, at the end of the road where people have created a fire ring with rocks,” Warthin said.

Campers are now welcome to utilize the Cooper Creek North and South Campgrounds, Resurrection Pass Trail, Bean Creek Trail and the Romig, Trout Lake and Swan cabins along the Resurrection Pass Trail, according to the release. Stetson Creek Trail and the Juneau Lake cabin remain closed.

Warthin warned that, while both fires are safely contained, campers might see the occasional bit of smoke during the Independence Day weekend. She said the smoke is nothing to worry about.

“They might see random kind of individual smoke coming from the fire’s interior,” Warthin said. “The fire managers are confident there will not be anymore significant fire growth.”

Warthin said it is important for visitors to remember that fireworks are prohibited in the Chugach National Forest in general.

Violators face a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual, a fine of up to $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for up to six months or both.

“Really the focus there is of course public safety,” Warthin said. “Education is always first and foremost on our minds, and we want to do our part on educating users on what they can and cannot do.”

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

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