Homer’s “Olia Court Fire” First Update: A 15 acre fire burning in grass and brush on the upper third of a steep stope near Homer is no longer growing tonight. There are two DOF engine crews working with locals and two apparatus from Kachemak Emergency Services. These boots on the ground have been supported by two DOF helicopters dropping water as well as large air tanker #52 dropping retardant. A structure is nearby but the latest update is that the fire has been halted for the evening with the engine crews and locals on scene overnight patrolling for hot spots.
At 8:45pm this evening Kenai’s DOF Fire Management Officer Howie Kent reported: “The fire is still holding at approximately 15 acres. Retardant lines are holding well. The fire is in steep country and we are awaiting Pioneer Peak Hotshots sawyers and firefighters to cut and construct containment lines. Helicopters 3SH and and 930 are still working the fire. Air tanker 52 was released back to Palmer. Air Attack is still over the fire and will be released shortly. Engine crews will overnight on the fire and the Fire Investigator just arrived on scene.”
At 7:45 pm this evening Kent reported: “Conair Tanker 52 just finished dropping first load of retardant. They’re headed to Kenai tanker base for a load and return to fire with 2nd load of retardant arriving soon. Air Attack 5AK is reporting the fire to be 15 acres.”
As has been mentioned in the field reports above, Pioneer Peak Interagency Hotshot Crew is currently en route to the fire. This 21 person State sponsored and Palmer based hot shot crew was in travel status this evening and will remain overnight (RON) in Soldotna to ensure driving safely is achieved and within work rest guidelines. The cause is unknown and with no reported lightning in the area it is suspected to be human caused. An investigation is underway and the Fire Investigator is on scene. The fire was burning in grass and alder with leaf litter underneath. FMO Kent added, “We should have a good handle on it by evening with overnight patrol by locals and our engine crews”. The Incident Commander is Carlton Story, an experienced firefighter from Fairbanks who was on preposition in Kenai for just this type of initial attack response.
The burn permit suspension remains in place of the Kenai due to prolonged and serious hot and dry conditions.
Due to recent wildfire activity and the forecasted hotter, drier weather in many parts of Alaska, the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center upgraded to Preparedness Level 2 (#PL2) today. The state experienced nine new wildfire starts in various locations throughout Alaska in the past 24 hours. #2022AlaskaFireSeason