Derick Williams of Sterling stands on a vehicle shortly after being evacuated from his home on Alamo Avenue after a wildfire started in the area Monday. (Photo by Kelly Sulliva/Peninsula Clarion)

Derick Williams of Sterling stands on a vehicle shortly after being evacuated from his home on Alamo Avenue after a wildfire started in the area Monday. (Photo by Kelly Sulliva/Peninsula Clarion)

Fire spreads in Sterling

  • By MEGAN PACER and KELLY SULLIVAN
  • Monday, June 15, 2015 3:48pm
  • News

Tuesday morning update:

The Borough Office of Emergency Management is reporting that borough fire departments continue to support Alaska Division of Forestry with suppression efforts on the Card Street Fire. At approximately 1:30 a.m., the Sterling evacuation area was expanded to include subdivisions from Card Street, west to the Kenai National Refuge at Mile 76 and south of the Sterling Highway. This area includes Lepus Avenue, Arlene Avenue, Zenith Street, Caffyn Avenue, and Anetta Street.

Evacuation areas will continue to remain in effect for Sterling subdivisions off Feuding Lane to Sterling Highway and Kenai Keys to the Kenai River as well as Funny River subdivisions off of Salmon Run Drive to the end of Fisherman’s Road and Dow Island.

Fire officials are asking residents to stay away from the evacuation areas. Updates will be provided to all local radio stations, Rapid Notify and the borough’s Facebook page when evacuations are lifted.

Continue to use caution when driving through smoke or passing fire apparatus. For more information on wildfire evacuation preparation, visit http://www.ready.gov/wildfires

For fire updates, visit akfireinfo.com or Alaska DNR- Division of Forestry (DOF)

The Office of Emergency Management call center is 907-714-2495.
www.facebook.com/kenai.peninsula.borough

Original story:

Emergency responders spent hours battling two wildland fires that started Monday on the Kenai Peninsula in Sterling and near Anchor Point.

The Card Street fire, named after the Sterling road where it originated, had ballooned to 640 acres by 7 p.m. Monday.

The fire near the Old Sterling Highway in Anchor Point was extinguished by 4 p.m. The cause has not yet been identified for either fire.

At least six structures in Sterling were consumed by the Card Street blaze. Tim Mowry, public information officer for the Alaska Division of Forestry, said a total of six structures have been burned. He said the fire is moving south and closer to the Kenai River in much the same way that the Funny River Horse Trail Wildfire did last year. Approximately 200 homes are threatened by the fire.

“Originally when the fire started, it was in an area that was inaccessible,” Mowry said. “The fire is heading south, and it’s trying to cross the Kenai River … from the north to the south.”

As of 7:30 p.m., he said the fire was within a mile of Sterling Highway.

Residents who live from Feuding Road to the Sterling Highway, on Cottontree Lane, on Aspen Road and from Kenai Keys Road to the Kenai River were put on recommended evacuation by 3:30 p.m., and the order was extended further from Salmon Run Drive to Dow Island and the surrounding area by 5 p.m., said program coordinator at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management Dan Nelson.

Division of Forestry Public Information Officer Andy Alexandrou said that as of 8 p.m., the Card Street Fire had crossed Feuding Lane and that section of the perimeter was moving westward.

He could not confirm the number of people who have been evacuated so far.

The first firefighters to respond to the fire around 2 p.m. did so on four-wheelers because it started out in the brush, Alexandrou said.

The Card Street fire has an “active burning perimeter” and trees were torching in the blaze, Alexandrou said. The fire extends from the forest floor to the treetops in the black spruce-dominated landscape.

“It’s sort of growing on all four sides, sort of growing in a circle,” Mowry said.

Nelson said there are two primary shelters for people being evacuated. For those in the Sterling area, the Sterling Community Center has been made available. The Soldotna Regional Sports Complex has also been designated as a shelter.

“As this develops and we get more staff in, they may get some public information briefing,” Nelson said. “Right now, we’re just making sure there are places for people to go if they need it.”

Melissa Daugherty, vice president of the Sterling Community Center Board, said close to 30 displaced individuals had arrived at the center by 7 p.m Monday. More could be seen coming and going from the building, she said.

Daugherty said the American Red Cross has provided cots and blankets in conjunction with Central Peninsula Emergency Services and the Kenai Peninsula Borough. The community center also offers diapers for children and kennels for dogs.

“We are looking for donations for food items,” Daugherty said.

Many of the displaced individuals at the community center are elderly, Daugherty said, and are having a hard time with the extreme heat and stress of the situation.

“When they come in, it’s so hot outside and it’s so emotional,” she said. “They come in and they’re sweating.”

The evacuation is recommended, not mandatory, because people can’t be forced to leave their homes, Alexandrou said. Kenai Keys Road only has one outlet, which is why evacuating residents from that area is critical, he said.

In an email from the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Services, Public Information Officer Brenda Ahlberg stated that Alaska State Troopers are coordinating the evacuation.

Brian Gibson and his wife Dawn made one of the first calls to the Division of Forestry when they noticed flames nearing their home on Cottontree Lane Monday afternoon. Gibson said they had about ten minutes to gather some essential items and drive away around 2 p.m.

He and his wife have lived on Cottontree Lane for seven years and left voluntarily.

Derick Williams, who lives on Cottontree Lane with his wife, was working on his window when he felt burning pine needles begin to fall on him. He was evacuated before retardant was dropped on his home, he said.

“They wouldn’t let me go back into my house to grab anything,” Williams said.

Gibson and Williams returned to check on their still-standing homes covered in red fire retardant as of 4 p.m. with neighbor Jerry Millett.

A border of charred, smoking trees surrounded Millett’s property. He said as long as nothing had been destroyed he wasn’t worried about the red liquid covering his home, lawn and vehicles.

Alexandrou said the retardant is aimed at areas beside homes because it can collapse roofs if is dropped directly on top of one.

A fire hotline for non-emergency information has been esyablished at 907-714-2495.

“Residents should use caution due to possible smoke and fire apparatus responding in the area,” Ahlberg said in the email.

In response to the fire, Homer Electric Association de-energized transmission lines the power lines that serve the Feuding Lane and Kenai Keys area, as well as the area on the south side of the Kenai River in the Fisherman’s Court/Dow Island area. The decision was based on safety factors for firefighters battling the fire, according to a press release from HEA spokesperson Joe Gallagher.

The state Division of Forestry, Nikiski Fire Department, Central Peninsula Emergency Services, the U.S. Forest Service and Kachemak Bay Emergency Services have all responded to the Card Street fire. Mowry said there are 10 smoke jumpers, 3 air tankers and 2 helicopters on the scene, with another helicopter on the way.

 

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com. Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion  Derick Williams and Brian Gibson climbed onto the top of Williams' truck to get a better view of the fire the Card Street Fire that had forced them to evacuate their homes Monday, June 15, 2015, on Feuding Lane in Sterling, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Derick Williams and Brian Gibson climbed onto the top of Williams’ truck to get a better view of the fire the Card Street Fire that had forced them to evacuate their homes Monday, June 15, 2015, on Feuding Lane in Sterling, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service coordinated and contracted the planes that dropped fire retardant adjacent to homes that were threatened by the Card Street Fire Monday, June 15, 2015, in Sterling, Alaska. Division of Forestry Public Information Officer Andy Alexandrou said if not done correctly, dropping the retardant incorrectly can cause a roof to collapse.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service coordinated and contracted the planes that dropped fire retardant adjacent to homes that were threatened by the Card Street Fire Monday, June 15, 2015, in Sterling, Alaska. Division of Forestry Public Information Officer Andy Alexandrou said if not done correctly, dropping the retardant incorrectly can cause a roof to collapse.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion  Derick Williams and Brian Gibson climbed onto the top of Williams' truck to get a better view of the fire the Card Street Fire that had forced them to evacuate their homes Monday, June 15, 2015, on Feuding Lane in Sterling, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Derick Williams and Brian Gibson climbed onto the top of Williams’ truck to get a better view of the fire the Card Street Fire that had forced them to evacuate their homes Monday, June 15, 2015, on Feuding Lane in Sterling, Alaska.

A tanker plane drops a load of retardant on the Card Street fire in Sterling on Monday. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Peninsula Clarion)

A tanker plane drops a load of retardant on the Card Street fire in Sterling on Monday. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Peninsula Clarion)

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service contracted planes that dropped fire retardant adjacent to homes that were threatened by the Card Street Fire Monday, June 15, 2015, in Sterling, Alaska. Jerry Millett who lives on Cottontree Lane went back to see if his property had suffered any damage from the fire around 4 p.m. All structures were still standing, and he said he was fine with the red retardant being everywhere as long as nothing was burned.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service contracted planes that dropped fire retardant adjacent to homes that were threatened by the Card Street Fire Monday, June 15, 2015, in Sterling, Alaska. Jerry Millett who lives on Cottontree Lane went back to see if his property had suffered any damage from the fire around 4 p.m. All structures were still standing, and he said he was fine with the red retardant being everywhere as long as nothing was burned.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion At least one home and one vehicle were consumed by the Card Street Fire on Cottontree Lane Monday, June 15, 2015, in Sterling, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion At least one home and one vehicle were consumed by the Card Street Fire on Cottontree Lane Monday, June 15, 2015, in Sterling, Alaska.

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