East Fork Fire community meeting in Sterling tonight at 6 p.m.

A public meeting will be held tonight at the Sterling Community Center at 6pm.

Join us tonight at the public meeting for an update on 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 your answer questions. 

Due to more accurate mapping, the East Fork fire is now estimated to be 1,156 acres. 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

Yesterday firefighting efforts were focused on “cold trailing” the western perimeter. Cold trailing involves firefighters walking the edge of the fire looking for any smoke and feeling for hot spots in the area. Any detected areas of heat are extinguished completely; this helps to ensure the fire will not pop back up later in that area.

The fire continues to burn in a limited protection area of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. 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.

Yesterday’s winds were primarily from the north. Today’s winds are forecasted to start from the north and then push around to the southeast by afternoon. Stronger, gustier winds are expected this afternoon with the system that is pushing in and likely bringing more moderate weather for Tuesday.

A helicopter landing in between 2 others parked in a field being used as a helibase. Photo by: Celeste Prescott

There are 120 firefighters currently assigned to the fire, including four crews that came from around the state of Alaska to help. In addition to the ground personnel, two large, water-scooping CL-415 aircraft located at the Kenai airport are 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 loading 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 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 akfireinfo.com, KPBOEM.blogspot.com and inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5250/.

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