Photo courtesy of Pam Foreman.
The fire that emerged over the weekend in Kodiak along Pasagshak Road- now named the Kalsin Creek Fire- is largely contained but is expected to burn itself out over the next few days.
That’s according to Howie Kent, a fire management officer for Alaska Division of Forestry. He says that the cause of the fire is still to be determined.
“It appears to be a human caused fire, we just haven’t determined the exact cause at this point. I currently have four of our Division of Forestry firefighting staff on scene down there. They’ve been working with Kodiak Coast Guard personnel there from the local base. And also, we hired maritime helicopters to help us support that fire effort with personnel movement and bucket work,” Kent said.
The fire was first reported around 10pm Saturday evening, and it had quickly grown in size come Sunday morning. It burned along an area boxed in by the Kalsin Creek and Olds River; as of Monday afternoon it has caused no structural damage or loss of life and was not expected to do so.
Kent says that they’re getting the upper hand on the fire, but it may take a while for it to finally be extinguished.
“So as it sits now, the fire is approximately 62 acres. It’s 80% contained, which means we’ve got it pretty close, getting it wrapped up here. Least getting it so it won’t have any forward progress and movement. So we’ll probably be on that fire the next couple of days, mopping up the hotspots and making sure that the fire isn’t gonna go anywhere,” Kent said.
Kent’s crew arrived in Kodiak Monday on a commercial flight, and began fighting the fire alongside crews from the Kodiak Coast Guard base. Coast Guard Fire had been on-scene since Sunday afternoon. Drops of chemical retardant began Sunday, as the firefighting aircraft based in Kenai only fly during daytime.
Hand crews are presently working to control the fire, supported by a helicopter with a bucket to do spot drops on particularly “hot” areas. The fire crews do not expect the fire to grow in size or move substantially, and thus have not called for additional firefighting teams and assets. They are also expecting a return to rainy weather to make the job easier, after days of bright and dry weather in Kodiak.
No overnight fire camp has been established, and the fire crews have gotten rooms at a local establishment in the area. They have been provided a transportation vehicle by one of the local fire departments.
Kent provided a reminder of fire safety while camping.
“So you know, as people are out recreating, they just need to be really cognizant about where they are having a fire. And then before they leave, they must extinguish fully that fire and touch every square inch of the fire that they did build and ensure that it’s out by touching it with their bare hand,” Kent said.