The Swan Lake Fire can be seen from above on Monday, Aug. 26 on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Wildland Fire Information)

The Swan Lake Fire can be seen from above on Monday, Aug. 26 on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Wildland Fire Information)

State lifts burn suspension

Residents may now obtain permits for burn barrels as well as for small and large-scale brush fires.

After two months of dry conditions, increased rainfall on the Kenai Peninsula has led the State Division of Forestry to lift the suspension on burn permits in the area, according to a Tuesday release from the Department of Natural Resources.

Residents of the Kenai Peninsula may now obtain permits for burn barrels as well as for small and large-scale brush fires. Permits for small brush piles and burn barrels can be obtained online at dnr.alaska.gov/burn and at local fire departments. For brush piles larger than 10 feet in circumference and 4 feet in height, a large-scale permit is required, which can be obtained by contacting the local Division of Forestry office in Soldotna at 907-260-4200. Those who have already obtained burn permits for this year do not need to apply for another one.

Those burning should follow the guidelines outlined in the permit, which provides details on the requirements for controlled burns as well as recommendations on best practices.

“If people follow the guidelines that are on the permit, everything should go smoothly,” Tim Mowry, Division of Forestry public information officer, said on Tuesday.

The issuance of burn permits was originally suspended on May 1 of this year because of concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic would limit the ability of firefighters and resources from the Lower 48 to reach Alaska. The suspension remained in place on the Kenai Peninsula because of dry conditions in May and June.

In a Tuesday email, City of Seward Fire Chief Clinton Crites said that a burn suspension may be reissued locally if dry conditions or winds over 10 miles per hour develop in the area.

Mowry said that this year’s wildfire season has been relatively tame compared to last year. There was a slate of lightning-caused fires in early June, Mowry said, which occurred in mostly remote regions. Nine crews from the Lower 48 have had to be brought up so far this year to assist with firefighting, three of which were sent home because they were ultimately not needed, Mowry said.

Two holdover fires were reported on the peninsula in June that were associated with last year’s Swan Lake Fire: one on June 15 and another on June 26.

The first holdover fire was small and was extinguished within 10 minutes, according to a June 26 update on Akfireinfo.com. The second fire reached 7.2 acres in remote wilderness and is currently being monitored by wildland fire personnel, according to the July 7 report from Alaska’s Interagency Coordination Center.

Residents should always call 907-260-4269 or check conditions online before burning.

Reach reporter Brian Mazurek at bmazurek@peninsulaclarion.com.

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