Kenai Peninsula’s East Fork Fire grows to over 1,300 acres

The lightning-caused East Fork has grown to over 1300 acres and continues to burn in a limited protection area of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. The fire remains approximately 4.5 miles north of the Sterling Highway and 3.5 miles east of the nearest residential area.

East Fork Perimeter Map, 6/18

Firefighting efforts are focused on the western and southern perimeters of the fire to limit the growth towards the community of Sterling and the Sterling Highway. The Alaska Division of Forestry is assisting with firefighting efforts and coordinating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to manage the fire for ecological benefits in the refuge.

Winds have been primarily from the south pushing the fire farther into the refuge, away from roads and populated areas. The winds did change direction and started coming from the North on Saturday afternoon so efforts were focused on the southern perimeter.

Today’s weather in the fire area is expected to be cooler then the last 2 days with higher humidity’s and light to moderate winds.

There are approximately 118 firefighters currently working on the fire, that includes 4 crews that came from around the state to help. In addition to the ground personnel, there are 2 large water scooping CL-415 aircraft located at the Soldotna airport and still assigned to the fire. There are additional tankers available in state, if needed. Three helicopters continue to assist with bucket drops as well as personnel shuttles and sling loads of supplies.

The public is asked to please steer clear of crews working in the area and be aware of the potential for aircraft using Skilak Lake to scoop water.

A public meeting will be held tomorrow, Monday 6/19, at the Sterling Community Center at 6pm. Join us for an update on the current fire activity as well as the plan for how it will be managed. Officials from the Alaska Division of Forestry, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and the Kenai Peninsula Borough will be on hand to answer questions.

A sea of black spruce is fueling the fire. Photo Credit: John Glover

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been put in place over the fire and pilots should check with the Federal Aviation Administration before flying in the area. More information on the TFR is available at http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html.

For more information, contact Alaska Division of Forestry public information officer Celeste Prescott at 907-244-9376. Information about the fire is also being posted on KPBOEM.blogspot.com and inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5250/.

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