Funny River wildfire crews work on rehabilitation

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Saturday, June 21, 2014 10:57pm
  • News

Rehabilitation for the 195,858 acres Funny River Horse Trail wildfire firebreaks are complete, almost exactly a month after the blaze was first reported on May 19.

A Type 3 Incident Management Team has been working on the environmental repairs, said spokesman Terry Anderson.

The crew of 28 personnel worked a minimum of 12-hours a day for more than a week alleviating potential erosion caused by the disturbed soils surrounding the fire lines, Anderson said. Simply driving in equipment had contributed to the damage, he said.

“Making sure our natural resources are contained is the priority now,” said Leah Eskelin, Park Ranger at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

Stabilizing the upset soil prevents sedimentation into the Kenai and Kasilof River drainage areas, which contain important fisheries, she said.

Opportunistic invasive plant life, such as dandelions, are also a risk, Eskelin said. The swaths of land are basically tilled and ready for seeding, she said.

Most fire lines were built on the northwestern side of the wildfire to protect the Kasilof, Funny River and Soldotna communities, Anderson said.

The Kasilof region was wet and boggy, so no large machinery could be brought in without risking more damage to the soil, Anderson said. So, all of the work had to be done by hand crews. The Funny River Road area was drier, with more solid ground and so it was possible to bring in two excavators, Anderson said. Spaces were also cleared for helicopters carrying support and supplies to land, or for removing crews from a potentially risky situation, Anderson said.

Building safe zones is a necessary part of the safety procedures in fighting a wildfire, and as the Funny River Horse Trail wildfire was erratic, having safe spaces to retreat was especially necessary, Anderson said.

The flames moved in the form of a “crown fire.” Crown fire can travel from 2-3 mph, often faster than a human can get away from it, Anderson said. It can also send embers flying up to 100 feet in front of it.

Pitch was a huge catalyst for the Funny River wildfire as well, Anderson said.

“Pitch burns like kerosene,” Anderson said. “It is a fire you can only fight with bulldozers.”

Dragging burnt or clear-cut brush is one way to restore these stripped spots, he said.

In total, there was nearly 25 miles of land that needed restoration, Anderson said. The process of rehabilitating land disturbed by the fire began only after the areas to the North and West perimeter of the wildfire was 100 percent contained, he said.

Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources — Division of Forestry has taken responsibility for monitoring and controlling the wildfire, Anderson said.

Currently, crews are primarily monitoring any potential hazards to human dwellings, Anderson said. Enough rain has fallen, however, so this particular fire will not flare up near town again, he said.

Most of the Type 3 Team will have a chance to relax after they return from working long shift for weeks straight, Anderson said.

 

Kelly Sullivan can be reached at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com

More in News

Alaska Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer speaks during a press conference announcing the administration’s push for changes to the state’s election system on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Kevin Goodman, State of Alaska)
Just 2 Alaska lieutenant governor candidates say 2020 presidential vote was fair

Alaska’s lieutenant governor will oversee the 2024 presidential election

Kenai Peninsula School District Superintendent Clayton Holland stand near the entrance to the district’s Soldotna offices on Thursday, March 17, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Academics, staff recruitment among district priorities for upcoming school year

The superintendent is ready to see KPBSD return to the district’s pre-COVID-19 academic performance

Raymond Bradbury preserves his salmon while dipnetting in the mouth of the Kenai River on Saturday, July 10, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion file)
Personal use harvest reports due Monday

Northern Kenai fishing report

Evelyn Cooley competes in the barrel race at the Kenai Peninsula Fair on Aug. 12, 2022, in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Music, magic, daredevils and pigs

Kenai Peninsula Fair brings an assortment of activities to Ninilchik

Signs direct voters at the Kenai No. 3 precinct on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion file)
Signs direct voters at the Kenai No. 3 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Local candidates report support from state PACs

Labor unions and the National Education Association are among the groups putting money into Kenai Peninsula state election races

Signs and examples on the recycling super sack at the Cook Inletkeeper Community Action Studio show which plastics are desired as part of the project in Soldotna, Alaska, on Aug. 11, 2022. Plastics from types 1, 2, 4 and 5 can be deposited.(Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local nonprofit accepting plastics for synthetic lumber project

The super sack receptacles can be found on either side of Soldotna

This July 28, 2022, photo shows drag queen Dela Rosa performing in a mock election at Cafecito Bonito in Anchorage, Alaska, where people ranked the performances by drag performers. Several organizations are using different methods to teach Alaskans about ranked choice voting, which will be used in the upcoming special U.S. House election. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Groups get creative to help Alaska voters with ranked voting

Organizations have gotten creative in trying to help voters understand how to cast their ballot, as the mock election featuring drag performers shows

A school bus outside of Kenai Central High School advertises driver positions on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Staff shortage, gas prices change school bus routes

The changes do not apply to the district’s special education students

The cast of “Tarzan” rides the Triumvirate Theatre float during the Independence Day parade in downtown Kenai, Alaska on Monday, July 4, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
The show goes on as Triumvirate seeks funding for new theater

The troupe has staged shows and events and is looking to debut a documentary as it raise funds for new playhouse

Most Read