Small Wildfire in Kachemak Bay State Park Turns into Group Effort by Citizens; Agencies
(Homer, AK) - The Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation and Division of Forestry would like to thank all of the local Kachemak Bay residents who responded to a small ground fire in Sadie Cove within Kachemak Bay State Park on Saturday, July 17.
A small cooking fire which was thought to have been completely extinguished on Wednesday, July 14 continued, however, to smolder beneath the trees and grow in size. With the aid of pumps and hoses lent by local resident Zack Porter, the help of Willie and Marcie Condon and their employees and Keith Iverson and his employee, the fire was suppressed for a couple of days. On Saturday, with the return of warm weather, the fire continued to spread under the matted forest vegetation creating considerable smoke. State Parks coordinated with State Forestry as hand crews and smoke jumpers from Fairbanks were dispatched to the scene. Thanks to Lance Haggerty of Mako's Water Taxi for providing radio communications and other logistics during much of this event.
State Forestry received the call on Saturday and air attack arrived at 6:30 to report the initial size-up. At that time the one acre fire was smoldering with the closest structure 1/3 mile away. State Parks personnel transported the fire resources to the fire on Sunday morning where the crews worked all day and into the night trenching a fire line and digging out hot spots. The fire crews were picked up Monday morning and released; local Forestry personnel will continue to monitor the site for any additional fire activity.
Alaska State Parks would like to remind park visitors that campfires are only allowed on unvegetated gravel bars and beaches or in fire grates provided in designated campsites. Do not build fires in any vegetated area above the tide line, never under the trees on a forest floor or above timber line in the alpine areas. Please check Park and other state regulations before venturing into the parks and other areas.
The three young men who started the fire told State Parks and Forestry investigators they believed they had completely extinguished their original small camp/cooking fire and the subsequent fire the next day. Fires of this nature can smolder for many days, weeks and even months in the matted vegetation and root systems and need to be completely dug out. Even after large amounts of water, these fires may not be extinguished. The three were issued summons and charged with AS 41.15.090, Building a fire without clearing the ground around, which may include restitution to the State.