Woody Island Fire Caused by Signal Flare Demonstration



A grass fire burned over eight acres Wednesday on Woody Island. Nick Sandin photo

Jay Barrett/KMXT

A potentially dangerous wildland fire was put out after burning a few hours Wednesday on Woody Island, about a mile offshore from Kodiak City. Kodiak Fire Chief Rome Kamai responded via helicopter with an assistant chief from the Coast Guard. He said a signal flare demonstration went wrong and caused the blaze.

(Woody Fire 1 35 sec "That is my understanding … for it to take off.")

The fifth grade students Chief Kamai mentioned were from Petersen elementary School. He said they were not in danger:

(Woody Fire 2 20 sec "My understanding was … get them off the island.")

Charlie Madsen owns a cabin on Woody Island, and he said the Camp Woody director, the adults with the Petersen students, along with Saint Innocent Academy students who came over from town, formed a bucket brigade to help put out the fire. Madsen said the family cabin is fine and everything turned out OK.

Kamai said firefighting efforts were helped when the fire came upon natural and manmade barriers.

(Woody Fire 3 24 sec "Having looked at it from … a firebreak, basically.")

State Division of Forestry spokesman Bud Sexton in Soldotna said a team of eight smoke jumpers from Fairbanks flew down to Kodiak yesterday evening and were taken to Woody Island by the Coast Guard. He said four of them worked all night ensuring the fire was completely out. They departed Kodiak at about 11 o’clock this morning.

He said the fire, on a combination of private and Native corporation land, officially measured 8.2 acres.

Smoke could easily be seen from town, as the wind, gusting over 25 mph, whipped up the flames. Kamai said conditions are ripe for wild fire, with a recent lack of rain, plants not green up yet, and brisk winds:

Sexton says fire danger is still high, and an open burn ban remains in effect for Kodiak Island and the Kenai Peninsula.


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