Update for Wednesday June 16th with video update by IC3 trainee Torrey Short. If you prefer to watch on YouTube, click here: youtu.be/aJYd0DUC3Io
Containment on the 102-acre Loon Lake Fire burning in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge increased to 30 percent Tuesday as crews nearly completed cutting a fire break around fire and laying hose around the perimeter to provide a water source for crews to extinguish any hot spots found.
There was no growth outside the perimeter, though there were occasional pockets of dense black spruce that burned in the interior of the fire during the heat of the afternoon. A helicopter assisted crews with bucket drops to prevent spotting outside of the line and will be available for similar work today, if needed. Crews are camping out near the fireline and relying on helicopters for delivery of hose, pumps, fuel, chainsaw parts, food and fresh drinking water. After contributing significant effort to cut and secure fireline, the Midnight Sun Hotshots were reassigned to their home unit in Fairbanks to assist with fires burning in the Interior.
Today, the two crews remaining on the fire will complete cutting saw line around the fire and encircle the entire fire with hose. Crews will use chainsaws to cut open areas of thick black spruce along the fireline to thin these pockets where significant heat lingers in the tightly packed trees. The objective for crews and fire managers is to mop up the fire 100 feet inside the perimeter to lessen chances that it may cross control lines. Operations Chiefs Zach Fleming and trainee Kevin Menkens are embedded with the crews and are also camping on the fireline.
A line-qualified Alaska Fire Medic is staged at the helibase in Sterling with a full complement of both basic and advanced life support to support crews for any medical issues. The highest priority on this fire is to ensure that every firefighter returns safely to camp at the end of shift, and leaves this assignment healthy and ready for the next wildfire.
A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) remains in place with a three mile “no fly” area from the center of the fire. For details about the TFR, go to https://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_1_2229.html.
Fire staff and representatives from the Kenai Peninsula Wildland Fire Education Cooperative, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management will be at the Soldotna Wednesday Market today from noon to 4 p.m. to provide information and answer questions from the public.
With wildfire conditions getting much more severe across Alaska this week, we remind everyone that there is a burn suspension in effect on the Kenai Peninsula. Be prepared for the season by creating defensible space around your home or business.