FUNNY RIVER FIRE UPDATE 9:30 am
96,584 acres with 20% containment
Yesterday firefighters made further progress constructing fire containment lines along the north and northwest sides of the #funnyriverfire and containment is now at 20 percent. At 5 PM, the fire was 96,584 acres, but enlarged significantly overnight. 409 personnel are assigned to the fire. Aerial resources supporting the fire suppression effort include five helicopters and four CL215 water scooping air tankers from Canada.
The fire continues to actively burn in black spruce and mixed hardwoods due to the continued warm and extremely dry conditions on the Kenai Peninsula. On the east side of the fire westerly winds drove the fire over five miles during an eight hour period; this growth was away from existing communities. Fire growth to the west towards the Sterling Highway during the day was slow, with the fire backing into the southwest winds.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Community Emergency Services issued an Evacuation Watch for the Pollard Loop Subdivision area in order for residents to prepare in case they may need to leave for safety reasons.
Friday evening the fire’s west flank became extremely active following a wind shift, with highly visible 50 foot flames stretching for several miles as the fire burned on the higher ground. This fire activity was visible from the Sterling Highway. As a cautionary measure, late Friday evening the Community Emergency Services conducted an orderly evacuation of residents living in about 50 homes located between Milepoint 103 and 105 of the Sterling Highway. The evacuation was completed within an hour, with Alaska State Troopers, Emergency Services, and firefighters going door to door to notify all residents. Fire activity decreased by midnight as the fire reached an extensive boggy area and the winds subsided. Emergency officials then lifted the evacuation order about 1 AM.
Firefighting crews continue to protect the Funny River community to the north and the Bear Creek Subdivision to the southeast of the fire. Structure protection crews are active in other areas potentially affected by the fire.
Vegetation remains extremely dry on the Kenai Peninsula. Residents and visitors are urged to use extreme caution with anything that could ignite a fire. Weekend visitors to the area and residents are reminded that fire crews, air and ground equipment are working in close proximity to the Sterling Highway and Funny River Road. Do not block roads to view the fire. Pull off only in safe designated pullouts.
Information about current smoke conditions is available from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation at http://dec.alaska.gov/air/am/smoke.htm
Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Services has set up a call line to help homeowners with fire preparedness. Residents can call (907) 714-2495. Information is available athttp://www.borough.kenai.ak.us/emergency-mgmt/fire