Fire update: 9 a.m. Saturday, August 24, 2019

Aug 24, 2019

Firefighters working on the Caribou Lake Fire
Credit AK Division of Forestry

The Caribou Lake Fire, 25 miles northeast of Homer, is 20 percent contained and is estimated at 848 acres. Fire suppression efforts will continue today. Drought conditions are challenging firefighting efforts as it means that the fire is burning deep into the ground without hitting any water. Two more crews are arriving today bringing the number of firefighters to between 80 and 90 people fighting the fire. There is a public meeting today, Saturday, on the status of all area fires at 3 p.m. at McNeil Canyon School – mile 12.5 East End Road. The meeting will be broadcast live on KBBI AM 890.

For The North Fork Fire, 6 miles northwest of Homer:
The Alaska Division of Forestry has lifted the READY alert status for the Diamond Ridge North Fork area.  
The North Fork Fire is holding at 59 acres, no growth expected. Crews are working to put out hot spots inside the containment line. The North Fork Fire is 75 percent contained.

KBBI’s Kathleen Gustafson spoke with Sarah Saarloos,
Public Information Officer with the Alaska Division of Forestry at 8 this morning for this fire update.

Transcription:

KBBI:

What is the plan for this morning for Caribou Lake and North Fork?

Saarloos:
Fire remains at 848 acres and they were able to hold that 20 percent throughout the night. Fire behavior was moderate on Friday. It is burning really deep. The report that we got this morning is it is going to take a lot to get in there to be able to do the mop-up that's needed to meet that a hundred percent containment.

We did have two water-dropping airplanes called Fire Bosses hitting the fire yesterday. The combination between the firefighters on the ground and that aviation support really helps keep the fire from spreading. So that's why we didn't see any increase acreage. So that was a success yesterday.

KBBI:
You're saying it's burning very deep. That's due to drought conditions, right?

Saarloos:
That's correct. And our temperatures have been above seasonal averages and looking into the next couple days. Unfortunately, it does look like our temperatures will remain above seasonal averages to recap acreage is holding at 848 Acres.

KBBI:
Well, if it's holding that it's not really moving is it?

Saarloos:
With the flare-ups that we’re having, that's when they call in that air support to be able to knock those flares out when it gets into the tree torching. That's when the aviation resources are really vital. They will be completing control lines around the fire perimeter. And when they can tie it into natural barriers like an actual wet swamp they'll be doing that but unfortunately things that used to have water in them do not have as much water this year

KBBI:
 And so you're saying they're putting a containment line around the fire. What percentage is it?

Saarloos:
We're still holding at 20 percent and with the additional crews that will be arriving today and the following days that will increase that number at a daily rate.

It's just going to take more boots on the ground to really start increasing that containment. They're holding it right now, but to actually build those control lines and make sure that they hold... they don't want to call something contained unless they know that they can hold. And that's the goal.

KBBI:
If I remember from yesterday's update, you said there were more crews coming in today. How many people are going to be on the fire today?

Saarloos:
Well yesterday there was about 35 - 38  firefighters out there and there will be two crews, I believe, being delivered today. So that's another 40 firefighters. So bringing our total to around 80 to 90 people.

KBBI:
There is a public meeting on the Caribou Lake fire today at 3:00 at McNeil Canyon School mile 12.5 on East End Road. Are you going to be at that meeting?

Saarloos:
 I will be at that meeting  and I will be facilitating.
The meeting will be covering the Caribou Lake Fire and North Fork Fire.
We'll also do a brief overview of the Swan Lake Fire and just to give people an idea of what the operations are and what their goals are to be able to bring that to some conclusion. We'll have map of all three fires.  We're also going to speak to what people can do to improve their property. Folks are wanting to help out the firefighters. We say one of the biggest gifts you can give a wildland firefighter is to do the improvements on your property and, yeah, clear the brush around your house

KBBI:
KBBI will be broadcasting that meeting live. But but it's at McNeil Canyon School for anybody to go to in person. Can you talk a little bit about the North Fork Fire?

Saarloos:
We were happy to get the news out yesterday that the READY notice had been removed from the borough because of the hard work that's been done by the firefighters. It needs a couple more days of really getting into that interior of the fire and making sure that there's no heat remaining. Being as dry it as it is that heat is going deep down into the depths.  They've got to peel all those layers back and get water down in there so we don't have something waking up a month from now.

KBBI:
All right, Sarah Saarloos, Public Information Officer for the Alaska Division of Forestry. Thank you for those updates on Caribou lake in North Fork Fires and we will see you at the meeting