Firefighters battle 61-acre blaze near Hope

  • By Rashah McChesney
  • Friday, May 22, 2015 1:56pm
  • News

This is a breaking news story that will be updated periodically. 

Updated at 8 p.m. Saturday

Fire officials are reporting that the burn has been contained. 

Assistant Zone Fire Management Officer Nicole Longfellow said on Saturday that firefighters had gained control of the fire around 4:30 p.m. on Friday. 

While the fire is contained, it has not yet been fully extinguished, Longfellow said. Firefighters are still working to put it out fully.

Firefighters are battling a 61-acre burn near Hope that, thus far, is the largest blaze of the season for the Kenai Peninsula.

The fire was discovered Thursday and should soon be contained, but will be monitored throughout the weekend according to State forestry public information officer Andy Alexandrou.

Initial reports were that it may have been an abandoned campfire, he said.

While state Division of Forestry personnel in Soldotna typically would have responded to help with the fire, they were busy with another that started Thursday on Wilderness Way near Homer. The Homer fire — an escaped un-permitted burn — consumed less than an acre and has since been extinguished, Alexandrou said. 

Chugach National Forest Public Affairs Officer Margin Warthin said the fire, called the Palmer Creek fire, started near the Coeur D’alene campground off Upper Palmer Creek Road.

The campground, which has six walk-in tent sites, is located off of the Hope Highway at Milepost 16.2, according to the U.S. Forest Service website.

One fire engine and field crew responded Thursday and another was added Friday, Warthin said. There are about 18 personnel working the fire including a state Division of Forestry helicopter providing bucket drops, she said.

Warthin said the fire would “likely be contained” by Friday and is not currently threatening any structures or the campground. While investigators are looking into the exact cause of the blaze, Warthin said it was clear that it was human-caused but the circumstances are not clear.

“It is under investigation,” Warthin said.

Both Alexandrou and Warthin said people should be aware of the high fire danger on the Kenai Peninsula.

Near Hope, the terrain is mostly alpine valley, hemlock and spruce trees. While the area is typically wetter, Alexandrou said, it has been dry enough to sustain the fire.

“We haven’t had a winter to speak of weather-wise,” he said.

 

Reach Rashah McChesney at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com or follow her on Twitter @litmuslens

 

 

 

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