The Chiniak Fire, which started less than two weeks ago and forced the evacuation of that small island community, has been declared 99 percent contained. State hotshot crews have been flying home since late last week, with a smaller Type 4 Team finishing off a few hotspots over the weekend that were identified by an aerial infrared survey made on Friday.
State fire information officer Jim Schwarber said in a press release that at least three other fires in the past 65 years were larger around the Kodiak Archipelago. The Twin Creeks fire in Chiniak was officially measured at 4,862 acres, putting it behind the 6,000 acre Olga Bay Fire of 1950, 13,256 acre Kodiak Fire in 1953 and the 14,100 acre Moser Bay fire in 1997.
Schwarber once again cautioned the public to be wary of trees with fire damaged roots, which he called “hazard trees.” They could fall with little or no notice at all. Fire crews have been removing as many as they can identify around the Chiniak School and homes in the community, but some may remain.
Conditions are still reasonably dry, and whether a burn ban is in effect or not, open fires are not recommended at this time.