Firefighters mop up Nikolaevsk fire after it burns 10 acres

May 15, 2018

A fire burns about 10 acres of grass, brush and dead trees on the edge of Nikolaevsk.
Credit The Alaska Division of Forestry

Firefighters are mopping up a blaze that burned several acres of grass, brush and dead trees in Nikolaevsk Monday.

Howie Kent is a Fire Management Officer with the Alaska Division of Forestry. Kent said the fire has not been officially extinguished and that dead trees in the area are still burning.

“Those heavy fuels are still burning and smoldering. So, we’re going in there today with a crew and some of the firefighters that initially attacked that fire yesterday to finish extinguishing the hot spots and the smoldering heavy fuels,” Kent explained.

The fire started near several homes in the small village Monday afternoon. Firefighters from the Division of Forestry, Anchor Point, Homer and Kachemak Emergency Services responded. Forestry also responded with an air tanker and another aircraft monitored flames from above.

Kent said no structures were harmed during the fire.

“It started near structures. So, technically there were a few structures threatened,” Kent added, “but because the way the fire was being pushed by the wind, there was nothing out in front of the fire that was a threat.”

The Division of Forestry initially estimated the blaze burned about 5 acres, but Kent said that number grew to 10 acres.

Fire danger in the area was set at moderate Monday. That status held into the day Tuesday, but Kent said rain in the forecast should help.

He added that even if that status is lowered, Kenai Peninsula residents should still be cautious when burning.

“If we start seeing sunshine and wind, it only takes a couple of hours for those grasses to dry out and they will catch fire,” Kent said. “It’s always a surprise to people when a fire escapes or when a fire occurs.”

He said the fire in Nikolaevsk should move to controlled status by the end of Tuesday. Kent said Forestry will monitor the area for a couple of weeks before it considers the fire officially out. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation, but Forestry believes it was human caused.