Photo courtesy Pam Howard Emergency crews stage at the end of the runway in Tyonek Monday afternoon. The blaze grew to 80 acres by Monday evening.

Photo courtesy Pam Howard Emergency crews stage at the end of the runway in Tyonek Monday afternoon. The blaze grew to 80 acres by Monday evening.

WIldfire threatens village of Tyonek

  • By DAN BALMER
  • Monday, May 19, 2014 11:48pm
  • News

A 5-acre wildfire near the village of Tyonek grew to 80 acres by 7:15 p.m. Monday.

Just after 8:30 p.m., Sam Harrel, information officer with the Division of Forestry, said the retardant crews have been applying is working to slow the fire down.

The blaze, fueled by high winds, was moving toward the village of Tyonek, which is located on the west side of Cook Inlet. Multiple fire agencies on scene are battling the blaze.

Andy Alexandrou, public information officer with the Division of Forestry, Kenai office, said the fire could potentially reach the village, but some natural breaks and sloughs between the fire and the village help to slow the fire down.

Harrel said smoke jumpers and two retardant tankers are working the fire, which is being handled by the Division of Forestry’s Mat-Su area personnel. The Midnight Sun Hotshot Crew is also on scene and the Pioneer Peak Interagency Hotshot Crew out of Palmer was en route at 7 p.m., Harrel said.

Ten Nikiski firefighters and eight firefighters from the Beluga volunteer department, along with residents of the village are working on the ground with a bulldozer and two fire engines, according to an email from Nikiksi Fire Chief James Baisden.

Harrel said the fire started near the north end of the Tyonek Airport runway with the call reported at about 2:45 p.m. Wind gusts of 25 mph caused the fire to spread and spot over the Chutina River. The blaze was within about 5 miles of the 200-person village when it began.

Harrel said the tankers have dropped retardant in front of the fire to encourage the fire not to spread.

“The winds are strong and affect the direction of the fire,” Harrel said. “The winds are blowing out and the village is being threatened.”

Students from the school in Tyonek were evacuated before school was released around 3 p.m., said Pam Howard, a school nurse who flew to the Kenai Municipal Airport from Tyonek.

She said the power went out and shortly after fire crews advised the school to evacuate.

“This afternoon we got word there was a fire across the river by the airport,” she said. “It was close to the time I was going to fly back so I was concerned about the smoke; whether I would be able to leave. I was concerned about the high winds today.”

Howard, who said school nurses are assigned only seven days a semester in Tyonek, said this was her fourth trip this year. She said the Tyonek School had scheduled their graduation for Monday night but she expected it to be cancelled. She said teachers and able-bodied students were asked to help fight the fire.

“The fire is getting close to the subdivision and residents were very concerned and hoping the planes would arrive with water,” she said. “Residents are concerned about some villagers who cannot walk (well).”

Reach Dan Balmer at daniel.balmer@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Alaska State Troopers logo.
2 men missing after plane crash reported near Moose Pass

A pair of hikers witnessed and reported the crash around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, trooper say

Alaska Department of Transportation Commissioner Ryan Anderson speaks during a town hall meeting on the use of brine on Kenai Peninsula roads, in the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Chambers in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, June 17, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Brine use reduced by 69% this winter, further changes possible

Department of Transportation holds town hall to report back on winter brine use, collect feedback

Sockeye salmon are gathered together at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Commercial fishing with dipnets to see 1st opening Thursday

Commercial fishing with dipnets will be allowed for their first opening on… Continue reading

A seal pup rescued from the Kenai Beach is in the care of the Alaska SeaLife Center’s Wildlife Response Program in Seward, Alaska, on June 6, 2024. (Photo provided by Alaska SeaLife Center)
2nd seal pup rescued in Kenai, ASLC now caring for 4

A second newborn seal was rescued on Kenai Beach and admitted by… Continue reading

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, right, slices and serves fresh watermelon during North Peninsula Recreation Service Area’s Family Fun in the Midnight Sun at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center in Nikiski, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
North Peninsula Rec holds annual summer celebration

Attractions at this year’s event included carnival games, food trucks, field games, face painting, live music and demonstrations

The Blood Bank of Alaska’s new Kenai Peninsula center is seen in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, June 17, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Blood Bank relaunches permanent center on Kenai Peninsula

The new location joins others in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Wasilla

Nathan Nelson directs a kite flying dozens of feet up in the sky above Millennium Square in Kenai, Alaska, during the Kenai Kite Festival on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Sun, wind, friends and kites

Kiters both experienced and novice gather for Kenai festival

Marchers walk from the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex to Soldotna Creek Park as part of Soldotna Pride in the Park on Saturday, June 3, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Pride in the Park, other Pride celebrations set for Saturday

The event starts with the Two-Spirit March, which meets at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex at 11:30 a.m.

Signs direct visitors at Seward City Hall on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Seward, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward OKs around $362,000 in purchases for Electric Department material

A pair of resolutions were included and passed within the consent agenda

Most Read