Kenai Fire responds to fewer boat accidents this dipnet season

The Kenai Fire Department hasn’t had to rescue as many swamped boats in the Kenai River personal-use dipnet fishery this year as last year.

So far, they’ve had one boat that had to be towed back to shore, said Kenai Fire Battalion Chief Tony Prior. The incident, reported Saturday, happened because the boat lost propulsion and drifted out into a set gillnet site with six people aboard. With the help of the Alaska State Troopers and Alaska State Parks rangers, the fire department was able to rescue the people and retrieve the boat. Because the setnetters were not fishing Saturday, no gear was involved, he said.

“The troopers got most of the people off the boat,” he said.

There was one other swamping the department heard about, but was not called to respond to, Prior said. Using the city’s boat, the fire department has been conducting regular patrols, as they have been doing since 2014 during the dipnet season for safety and to enforce the city’s no-wake zone near the river’s mouth.

At this time last year, the Kenai Fire Department had responded to three in the first two weeks of the dipnet, ultimately responding to four capsizings and two boat collisions. Many dipnetters fish from boats, some of which are small skiffs susceptible to swamping from the wake of other passing boats or large waves in that section of the river.

The Kenai River dipnet fishery has one more week to go before closing at 11 p.m. July 31. So far, fishing has been spotty, with sockeye runs slow and the total cumulative count less than half of what it was this time last year. Many people traveled to Kenai last weekend to try a hand at dipnetting for some sockeye, leading to additional traffic, both on the river and on the roads.

Prior said dipnetters should remember to check the City of Kenai’s Dipnet Kenai app for reminders about the tides and boat launch closures. The city, which launched the app this year, has been using it to send out notices about potential hazards and incidents on the beaches.

For Tuesday, no camping or parking will be allowed on both the north and south Kenai beaches because of an extreme high tide at 6:08 a.m., according to the app.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

In this Aug. 26, 2020, file photo, U.S. Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican, speaks during a ceremony in Anchorage, Alaska. The longest-serving Republican in the U.S. House is appearing in a new round of ads urging Alaskans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Ads featuring Young are being paid for by the Conquer COVID Coalition, Young spokesperson Zack Brown said by email Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)
Young urges vaccination in new ads

Young, 88, “believes the vaccines are safe, effective and can help save lives.”

A portable sign on the Sterling Highway advertises a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinaton booster clinic held 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at Homer High School in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
What you need to know about boosters

COVID-19 vaccine eligibility explained

Damage in a corner on the inside of the middle and high school building of Kachemak Selo School Nov. 12, 2019, in Kachemak Selo, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Repair costs rise as school facilities deteriorate

About $420 million worth of maintenance is needed at Kenai Peninsula Borough School District buildings.

Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell (center) presents Wildlife Trooper Laura Reid (left) with a Life-Saving Award for her efforts in rescuing a child from the Kenai River offshore of North Kenai Beach this summer, during a ceremony held by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Oct. 13, 2021. Reid and Kenai River dipnetter Antoine Aridou (far right) rescued the 12-year-old on July 29, 2021. (Photo provided by the Office of the Governor)
Governor recognizes dipnetter, trooper for summer rescue

Wildlife Trooper Laura Reid received a Life-Saving Award and Antoine Aridou received a Governor’s Commendation.

COVID-19 (Image courtesy CDC)
State reports 3 more COVID deaths, more than 900 cases

The newly reported deaths push Alaska’s total to 594 COVID fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic.

In this July 1908 photograph provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear sits at anchor while on Bering Sea Patrol off Alaska. The wreckage of the storied vessel, that served in two World Wars and patrolled frigid Arctic waters for decades, has been found, the Coast Guard said Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office via AP)
Coast Guard: Wreck found in Atlantic is storied cutter Bear

The ship performed patrols in waters off Alaska for decades.

The Federal Aviation Administration released an initiative to improve flight safety in Alaska for all aviation on Oct. 14, 2021. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
FAA releases Alaska aviation safety initiatives

The recommendations, covering five areas, range from improvements in hardware to data-gathering.

Most Read