Homes Protected as Containment Continues on Chiniak Fire

Jay Barrett/KMXT

The State Division of Forestry says homes on the north flank of the Twin Creeks Fire – the official name of the Chiniak blaze – have safe, defensible space around them, after four days of work by an ever-growing crew of firefighters.

They have completed a half mile of that northern fire line nearest the residences there in Chiniak, so that area, at this time, we’re confident in saying those structures are no longer threatened by the fire,” said Jim Schwarber, a fire information officer with the Alaska Division of Forestry

Despite gusty winds returning on Sunday, Schwarber said they did not cause any new flare ups.

“Current weather has kept fire activity minimal compared to when things started Thursday night on this fire. The fire growth was minimal yesterday. We do have 10 percent containment of the 5,300-acre or so fire at this point in time,” Schwarber said. “We are working toward 100 percent containment. That is the objective on this fire. We’re working to make sure this fire will no longer threaten any of the communities there in Kodiak Island.”

To help contain and mop up the numerous hotspots, Schwarber said more crews arrived all weekend.

“On the ferry last night we had hotshot crew came in. The Yukon Type II initial attack crew came in. That was an important resource we were competing with other fires in the Mat-Su for, and we’re glad to get them here. I think they’re the third or fourth 20-person crew to show up and we have a Type III management organization in place,” he said. “If we need additional resources we’ll be asking for them, but right now, we’re in position to make good steady progress on this fire.”

The forecast is calling for gusty, though steadily decreasing, winds through tonight, becoming light and variable tomorrow. Rain returns to the forecast late Wednesday.

With the state division of forestry on-scene and in control of the firefighting efforts, the joint city-borough emergency operations center has been shut down.

One family’s home, not three as was reported Friday, was lost to the flames. There is a community effort online over the weekend to find the family a trailer to live in, as they were reportedly staying on their property in a tent. The community’s small library was also destroyed.

Residents of Chiniak were allowed back to their property Friday afternoon, but Schwarber cautions residents and visitors that trees with roots weakened by the flames could fall down with little or no notice.

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