UPDATE 4:30 p.m. – The Pioneer Peak Fire fire is estimated at two-tenths of an acre and is now 70% contained, thanks to the hard work of two firefighters who hiked into the fire with tools and a chainsaw and dug a containment line around the upper portion of the fire to keep it from spreading. The bottom part of the fire burned into a rock drainage and is no longer spreading. Firefighters will return to the area tomorrow to continue mopping up areas they could not reach today.
Two wildland firefighters from the Division of Forestry’s Mat-Su Area office are hiking in to contain a small wildfire at the base of Pioneer Peak near Palmer this morning.
The Mat-Su forestry office received multiple calls from the public Tuesday afternoon reporting what was dubbed the Pioneer Peak Fire. The first calls came in just before 3 p.m.
Smoke from the fire was visible from the Old Glenn Highway. Two firefighters hiked into the fire late Tuesday afternoon for a size up. They reached the scene just before 6 p.m. and found a 15-foot-by-15-foot fire smoldering in moss at the 1,100-foot level on the mountain. There was one dead tree still burning and evidence of human activity at the scene.
Due to hazards associated with the burning snag, extremely steep terrain and dwindling daylight, as well as little potential for the fire to spread overnight, minimal effort was made to secure the fire Tuesday. A plan was made to return to the scene Wednesday morning to contain the fire.
A local resident using a spotting scope reported Wednesday morning that there may be two spots burning about 40 yards apart. Firefighters began hiking into the fire at around 10 a.m.
Fire managers are confident the two firefighters will have the fire contained or totally extinguished by this evening. Firefighters carried a chainsaw and portable water backpacks into the fire to aid containment efforts. There is runoff water nearby that can be used to help extinguish the fire.
Smoke from the fire was visible from the Mat-Su forestry office in Palmer Wednesday morning. The public is asked to refrain from calling the forestry office or 911 to report the fire.
Given evidence of human activity at the scene and the lack of recent lightning in the area, the fire is believed to be human caused. Firefighters will be trying to pinpoint a specific cause as they mop up the fire today.