Facing disaster, community pulls together

  • Thursday, June 18, 2015 3:04pm
  • Opinion

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have been impacted by the Card Street fire, from those who have been displaced by evacuations or who have lost their homes to the flames, to the firefighters battling to save as many other structures as possible.

As of Thursday afternoon, the fire had grown in size to 9,000 acres with no containment, and was elevated to the highest priority fire in the nation. Additional personnel continue to be deployed to the Kenai Peninsula to address the Card Street blaze, as well as to attack two wildland fires in the Cooper Landing area near Juneau Lake and Stetson Creek.

With firefighting resources already stretched thin, it is imperative that all of us do what we can to minimize the risk of any additional fires. First and foremost, that means not lighting a fire — for any reason. Every municipality and government agency with the authority to do so has issued a ban on open burning, including campfires. On the Chugach National Forest, even smoking is restricted.

Under the burn ban enacted by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday, only gas grills, backpacking or camp stoves using fuel or compressed canisters which can be regulated and shut off are still permitted for use.

Fireworks, which already are illegal on the Kenai Peninsula, also have been banned.

With continued hot and dry conditions, peninsula residents and visitors should be mindful of other activities that can spark a fire, such as heat or sparks from power tools or motor vehicles.

Please use common sense. Stay out of the way of fire crews responding to the fires. Stay out of the evacuation areas — the fire has been unpredictable, and conditions can change in a matter of minutes. There’s a reason people have been asked to leave those locations.

We’re heartened by the community’s outpouring of support, from donations to designated shelters, offers to take in displaced families as well as pets and livestock, to water and food for the crews out on the fire line. This community is always willing to pull together and help where help is needed, an attitude that will make getting through the current disaster a little more manageable.

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