Fire update: 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019

Aug 22, 2019

Area map for Caribou Lake Fire, issued on Thursday, August 22, 2019
Credit AK Division of Forestry

The demand for resources at Caribou Lake Fire has grown and in response, AK Division of Forestry has decided that the Caribou Lake Fire will now be administered by the same team as the Swan Lake Fire according to Sarah Saarloos, Public Information Officer. Saarloos was based in Soldotna but is traveling to Homer today, Thursday, to set up an office. She spoke to KBBI this morning for this update on the Caribou Lake and North Fork fires. 

KBBI:
Can you tell me anything about the Caribou Lake Fire?

Saarloos:
Yeah, actually I can tell you a lot about the Caribou Lake fire. Yesterday was a drier day than we've had in the last two days. So with that fire activity, we were able to get a lot of aviation on the fire yesterday that included tankers with retardant.

The smaller tankers are kind of like the crop duster plane. They were able to get. water onto the fires, a mix between retardant and then water. They were able to get more cabins plumbed with structure protection. So what that means is that they were able to get pumps in and with hoses around some of the structures.

We're still sitting at about 30 Personnel, but we will be getting more crews that are ordered or the Caribou Lake Fire because we have type one team at the Swan Lake Fire. What's  going to happen in the next day or two is that the Caribou Lake Fire will become part of the same organization as the Swan Lake Fire and what that will provide is an ability to get more resources prioritized to the Caribou Lake Fire for a more extended period will be able to have more management and more resources Crews.

KBBI:
And how big is the Caribou Lake Fire right now?

Saarloos:
Unfortunately, there isn't an accurate mapping. We're still saying it's around 700 Acres, but that's a priority today is to get more accurate mapping. We did have Air Attack flying the fire yesterday. We do have a map. But again the accuracy of the perimeter....We're hoping in this next shift if we get some clear skies to be able to get a really detailed perimeter map. We have to have that visibility to be able to do that.

KBBI:
Have any of the structures been engaged by fire?

Saarloos:
At this time every structure that is out there is looking good. And we've got eight smokejumpers out there and a fully qualified type 1 Hotshot crew out there.They come in with a lot of experience on how to, even with limited resources, protect cabins out in the woods.

KBBI:
Can you tell me about the North Fork fire?

Saarloos:
The North Fork fire. We we are getting close to some real containment on that. It's been holding now for three days now at 59 Acres there were talks last night with the borough about starting to look at being able to reduce that READY alert.

We're not there yet, but I would say people should stay situationally aware because that information could come out today. And so that's where we're at with the North Fork. It's holding it 59 acres. They're in what we call mop up. So they're looking for any hot spots and that it's held within that that Dozer ring now for three shifts.

KBBI:
I have one question about that. So I know what a dozer ring is it goes all the way around with the bulldozers around the perimeter of the fire. Some of the reports are talking about a water line or a hose line. What is that?

Saarloos:
Okay, what we do is we use a series of pumps and hose so like a little Mark 3 pump that you would have out in your cabin to get water from a lake or a pond up to a cabin They're a little bit bigger than a garden hose basically, imagine like a trail, a dozer trail and then the hose is laid all the way around the fire.  How firefighters use that is they tap into that hose line and they go into the fire. It's kind of like having a hydrant and they plug into that for a water source. It's a lot smaller hose than what structure firefighters use. Being able to get water to do that thorough mop up that is needed for our deep layers of tundra that we have up here in Alaska that burn really deep. So it takes a lot of manual labor and also water to be able to really get any heat snuffed out.