A wildfire broke out around 9:30 last night in Chiniak, about 40 road miles from Kodiak, but just 10 across Chiniak Bay. Flames were clearly visible across the bay all night. Strong winds gusting to 60 mph caused the fire to quickly grow, forcing evacuation of the small community.
The Kodiak Emergency Operations Center, a joint city-borough partnership, was activated, and fire trucks from all area departments responded. Several school buses were also sent to Chiniak to help evacuate residents. Many were brought to the Kodiak Middle School for the night.
Kodiak Fire Department Chief Jim Mullican said people are not being allowed past Roslyn Beach.
“We have a roadblock set up at Roslyn Beach. Residents will not be allowed beyond that point. We are encouraging residents to not even to go out to that area. The fire is still burning and is still out of control.
He said the fire has moved into the hills and has put Pasagshak residents on evacuation alert because of unpredictable winds.
Mullican said officials are waiting for daylight to assess the extent of the fire and the damage caused.
“Homes that have been impacted, we’re getting sporadic reports, so we don’t want to alarm people at this point in time until we get eyes-on," he said. "We don’t want to go down the road of what may have been damaged or what’s not damaged.
The Chiniak Library has been confirmed destroyed, and though the Chiniak School is on King Crab Way as well, there’s no confirmation that it was destroyed, but the police department said last night that the whole area had been engulfed.
This is a developing story, and we’ll update it as more information becomes available.