Fire update: 6 p.m. Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Aug 27, 2019

A maul, on the left, and a rogue beast, right, two tools firefighters are using at the Caribou Lake Fire
Credit Chris Barth

The Caribou Lake Fire, 25 miles northeast of Homer, is still 20 percent contained and is estimated to cover 900 acres. Firefighters have maintained the 900 acre footprint with no growth for over three days and expect to officially increase the percentage of containment as updated maps are complete.
Minimal fire growth is expected over the next several days as the predicted cloud cover will help to moderate fire activity. Around 80 people are fighting the fire on the ground and in the air.

The Alaska Division of Forestry asks hunters in Caribou Lake to please stay away from the fire area.

A Temporary Flight Restriction is in effect for the Caribou Lake area.
Drivers out East End should be aware that Forestry is using a gravel lot on
Basargin Road. Signs and flags are on the road near the area.

The North Fork Fire, 6 miles northwest of Homer, is now 100 percent contained at 59 acres. Firefighters continue to mop up the fire. Forestry hopes to declare the North Fork Fire officially out as early as tomorrow.

Sarah Saarloos, public information officer with the Alaska Division of Forestry spoke with KBBI’s Kathleen Gustafson today, Tuesday, August 27, at 5:30 p.m.

Transcript:

KBBI:
Do you have an update for the Caribou Lake Fire?

Saarloos:
So, crews received several loads of supplies on Tuesday afternoon, today, by helicopter. And although there was limited heat showing in the thermal mapping, firefighters are actually finding heat about two feet under the surface and they're using this tool called the rogue beast.

KBBI:
Okay, did you say a rogue beast?

Saarloos:
Yep, which is kind of like an axe and a Pulaski. They’re able to dig deep into the earth. Kachemak Emergency Services continued to support the effort including using an engine today, wetting down the heli-spot, because it's so dry and dusty out there, just to be able to help facilitate getting the supplies out to the crews.

There's still some visible smoke consistent that we've had for the last few days from the fire and we're beginning to see an increase in recreationalists, hunters in the area.
So just a reminder to avoid the fire area, the heli-spot and respect the Temporary Flight Restriction

KBBI:
Okay, so and you're saying you're finding hunters and people out there recreating in the fire area?

Saarloos:
Yep. We're starting to see an increase and that has to do with hunting season. So we're asking people to avoid the actual fire area and the heli-spot that's down at the end of Basargin Road.

KBBI:
Okay.
 

Saarloos:
And then also we have the TFR of the Temporary Flight Restriction. That's how we're getting all of our gear out there, mostly, you know, with the sling loads and the helicopter.

KBBI:
And were you able to increase the containment level?

Saarloos:
We're still waiting for those numbers to come in, but everything is holding. The northern dozer line has been an area where they were finding heat, but they've been able to hold it today. When I left the heli-spot, they had hooked up the bucket onto the helicopter to get more water out there. They are still finding heat along that dozer line control along that 900 Acres of perimeter.

You have 80 firefighters out there. A lot of really good work is happening. Some of the logistics, as we all understand is a challenge because it's not on the road system. So getting the hose and pumps out there, that has been a little bit of a delay. But it seems like what I saw today - that they're getting a lot more gear in.

KBBI:
 And how close are you to demobilizing the firefighters on the North Fork fire?

Saarloos:
I believe they will be demobilized tomorrow. They've been doing all that heavy gridding making sure that there's no heat remaining and things are looking at solid enough for them to be able to demo (demobilize) those two crews. So Zigzag and the Yukon will be able to either take two days R & R if they need it, then be resource ordered to another fire, be absorbed by one of these bigger fires, possibly Swan Lake, or go back on the rotation list.

KBBI:
Okay. Well, thank you so much for the update and I look forward to hearing confirmation tomorrow, possibly, that the firefighters have been demobilized at the North Fork.

Saarloos: Thank you. Bye.