Open burns suspended

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Monday, June 15, 2015 1:37pm
  • News

The Alaska Division of Forestry has suspended open burning on the Kenai Peninsula due to high fire danger. As of Monday morning, burn permits are no longer valid, and no new permits will be issued until conditions improve.

The suspension was launched following a red flag warning issued by the National Weather Service for Southcentral Alaska. The warning is in effect until 10 p.m. Monday evening for the Western Kenai Peninsula, according to the weather service.

For the past two days high temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees coupled with low humidity have caused extreme fire danger conditions on the Kenai Peninsula, said Division of Forestry Public Information Officer Andy Alexandrou. All burning except warming fires at home and burns in established rings at local campgrounds are prohibited he said.

Campfires may be not be larger than a 3-by-3-foot area, according to a Division of Forestry press release. The ban will be lifted at a later time, when conditions have significantly improved, Alexandrou said. That means waiting until things cool down or the area gets some much-needed moisture, he said.

Municipalities are mirroring Forestry’s policy.

Kenai Fire Chief Jeff Tucker said no land clearing or debris burning is allowed inside city limits. Burning is allowed in local campgrounds, and small warming and cooking fires on residential properties are allowed.

Tucker said to be extremely careful when partaking in any outdoor activity that “can cause a spark or produce heat,” such as using power tools or smokers.

Alexandrou said the Division of Forestry is asking that no fire is left unattended. Wind can pick up embers and carry them to nearby brush and spark a flame, he said.

“We want to make sure the risk factors are minimized,” Alexandrou said.

The extreme fire danger is not unique to the Kenai Peninsula.

The human-caused Sockeye Fire in Willow is “wind driven” and ballooned to 6,500 acres overnight, Alexandrou said. Wind on the Kenai Peninsula has been relatively low recently, he said.

Tucker said even the light breezes that have been present in the area pose risks.

Tuesday evening, there is a chance of thunderstorms with persistent winds for the area, Alexandrou said. In the coastal areas winds may pick up to 20 miles per hour, while gusts in Kenai may remain milder at 8 miles per hour.

Alexandrou said the most common cause of forest fires is the “lack of common sense used by the public.”

“And that’s the honest truth,” he said. “People don’t go out and start a fire on purpose.”

Negligence is often involved, Alexandrou said. Always have water and a shovel nearby to extinguish any flames or embers that escape a controlled fire, he said.

“You need to be ‘Johnny-on-the-spot’,” Alexandrou said. “Often times ‘five-minutes later’ is too late.”

Municipalities and Central Emergency Services have been briefed and are operating under the same suspension regulations, Alexandrou said.

Tucker said now is the perfect time to fire-safe homes before any fires threaten properties.

To report a wildland fire, the Division of Forestry asks the public call 911, the Area Forestry Office, or Alaska Interagency Coordination Center at 1-800-237-3633.

The number for the Kenai-Kodiak Division office is 260-4260.

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

tease
House District 6 race gets 3rd candidate

Alana Greear filed a letter of intent to run on April 5

Kenai City Hall is seen on Feb. 20, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai water treatment plant project moves forward

The city will contract with Anchorage-based HDL Engineering Consultants for design and engineering of a new water treatment plant pumphouse

Students of Soldotna High School stage a walkout in protest of the veto of Senate Bill 140 in front of their school in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi students walk out for school funding

The protest was in response to the veto of an education bill that would have increased school funding

The Kenai Courthouse as seen on Monday, July 3, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Clam Gulch resident convicted of 60 counts for sexual abuse of a minor

The conviction came at the end of a three-week trial at the Kenai Courthouse

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meets in Seward, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (screenshot)
Borough awards contract for replacement of Seward High School track

The project is part of a bond package that funds major deferred maintenance projects at 10 borough schools

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President LaDawn Druce, left, and committee Chair Jason Tauriainen, right, participate in the first meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Four Day School Week Ad Hoc Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
4-day school week committee talks purpose of potential change, possible calendar

The change could help curb costs on things like substitutes, according to district estimates

A studded tire is attached to a very cool car in the parking lot of the Peninsula Clarion in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Studded tire removal deadline extended

A 15-day extension was issued via emergency order for communities above the 60 degrees latitude line

A sign for Peninsula Community Health Services stands outside their facility in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
PCHS to pursue Nikiski expansion, moves to meet other community needs

PCHS is a private, nonprofit organization that provides access to health care to anyone in the community

Jordan Chilson votes in favor of an ordinance he sponsored seeking equitable access to baby changing tables during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna OKs ordinance seeking to increase access to baby changing tables

The ordinance requires all newly constructed or renovated city-owned and operated facilities to include changing tables installed in both men’s and women’s restrooms

Most Read