Caribou Lake Fire Update – August 30, 2019

This will be the last daily update for the Caribou Lake Fire unless significant activity occurs. Visit InciWeb for the latest information.

The Caribou Lake Fire, located 25 miles northeast of Homer, Alaska, was first reported on August 19, 2019. A load of BLM Alaska Smokejumpers initially responded to the fire to protect the nearly 30 structures that were threatened by the fire. Tactical firefighting aircraft including Fire Bosses, two heavy airtankers, and the local Alaska Division of Forestry helicopter also responded to assist firefighters with both water and retardant drops.

On August 20, smokejumpers, assisted by a dozer, began building fire line on the southern edge of the fire to reduce the threat to nearby structures. The Caribou Lake Fire was active on August 21; moving toward structures as poor visibility limited aircraft support. As visibility improved, aircraft were able to drop retardant to slow the spread of the fire. The Redding Interagency Hotshot Crew (IHC) was flown to the fire by helicopter, and worked with other firefighters to build control lines. By the end of August 21, the fire had grown to about 800 acres and was 10 percent contained. On August 22, the smokejumpers, Redding IHC, and members of the Kachemak Emergency Services worked with dozers to construct line and complete any necessary structure protection measures.

The Great Basin Incident Management Team 1 assumed command of the Caribou Lake Fire on August 23. At that time, the fire was 895 acres and 20 percent contained. Although fire behavior was moderate, the fire was burning actively in the dry grasses and moss due to the ongoing drought conditions. Two Type 2 Initial Attack (2IA) hand crews arrived to assist with suppression on the fire on August 24. The fire increased 5 acres to 900 acres. Nearly 80 firefighters were assigned to fully contain the fire by August 26. The fire received some precipitation; however, the ongoing drought conditions left the vegetation and ground excessively dry. On August 27, fire activity on the Caribou Lake Fire was mostly smoldering and creeping with some isolated single-tree torching. The fire grew four acres, for a total of 904 acres; and remained 20 percent contained. By the end of the day on August 28, firefighters had completed large sections of containment line on the east, south, and west sides of the fire. All of the containment lines were tested by gusty winds, but there was no additional growth. The Caribou Lake Fire remained 904 acres in size; however, the containment has increased to 57 percent. On August 28, firefighters continued to secure existing control lines and mop up to reduce potential for spotting, while working to secure the northern edge of the fire.

Caribou Lake Fire Map – August 30, 2019

No structures have been destroyed to date, and none are threatened at this time. There have been no injuries reported to date on the Caribou Lake Fire. The initial response and ongoing support from Kachemak Emergency Services has been critical for situational awareness and logistical support.

The Caribou Lake Fire is being managed as a full suppression fire with a goal of 100 percent containment estimated by September 4, 2019. Smoke may be visible from within the interior of the fire perimeter until there significant and repeated rain or snow.

Safety: Helicopters and firefighters will be using a portion of the gravel pit parking area on Basargin Road as a helispot in support of the Caribou Lake Fire. Fire officials are asking people to avoid parking in the area near the helispot for the safety of the firefighters and public. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is asking Kenai Peninsula hunters to avoid active wildfire areas.

Weather: The first of two low-pressure systems is expected to move through the area tomorrow. There is a 25 percent chance of wetting rain overnight Friday into Saturday. Saturday is expected to be cooler with scattered showers. The second low-pressure system will move through on Sunday, with wind gusts increasing to 22 mph and a 50 percent chance of rain. A similar weather pattern will move through the area on Monday and Tuesday, but winds will be lighter.

A Dense Smoke Advisory in effect for the Western Kenai Peninsula, including the cities of Kenai, Soldotna, Homer, and Cooper Landing until 1:00 p.m. Friday, August 30, 2019.

Sterling Highway: For the latest road conditions, visit 511.alaska.gov.

Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR): A TFR is in place for air space over the Caribou Lake Fire (9/7506 NOTAM). The TFR includes unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or drones, as well. Flying drones near wildfires could cause injury or death to firefighters.

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