Jane M. Pascall
A forest fire originating at Funny River Road, east of Soldotna, nearly seven miles long and almost a mile wide, filled Kachemak Bay and Homer with smoke Tuesday.
The fire, close to 2,500 acres as of yesterday, is burning south and estimated to be three miles from Tustumena Lake, according to the Department of Forestry. Air operations ended Monday night and crews remained on the fire overnight with efforts resuming Tuesday.
No structures are threatened by the Funny River fire.
The Office of Emergency Services is cautioning people with respiratory problems to stay inside if they can. NOAA has predicted that the winds will calm by Wednesday and they “expect the wind to let up tonight and that should reduce the amount of smoke transport to Homer.”
Homer Fire Chief Robert Painter said that it is unlikely Homer crews will be called to fight the Funny River fire. However, if the fire in Tyonek grows, there is a chance his crew will be called upon.
“It all depends on how many people we have available and what resources they’re asking for,” he said.
Currently, there is a burn ban permit suspension in effect on the Kenai Peninsula.
“Anything that requires a permit for open burning and burn barrels are prohibited at this time,” said Painter. “It’s not a complete ban as small campfires and warming fires are allowed.
A fire burned about two acres near the Russian Village of Razdolna, according to Kachemak Emergency Services Chief Bob Cicciarella over the weekend.
“The fire was in the Swift Creek Ravine, and had a lot of potential in a very steep terrain,” he said. “There was concern for houses, but there was no strong wind at the time, and that helped us a little bit. We were ready to evacuate.” Cicciarella said that it took 2-4 hours to contain the fire.
“We pretty much had to do an air attack with Forestry, two helicopters with water drops and bombers put a slurry line up along the cliff where the houses were.”
Cicciarella said crews from Soldotna and Palmer did an overhaul throughout the weekend.
“Now it’s in monitor status with no heat showing.” The cause is undetermined and under investigation. KESA crews also responded to a fire on Newell Court caused by a spark from an exhaust fan in a shop and another fire on Eagle Aerie off Skyline Drive.
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