Firefighters and Homer Police responded to numerous calls last week for people burning campfires, but otherwise the lower Kenai Peninsula has been spared huge wildfires raging elsewhere in the state. With continued dry weather, low winter snowfall and equipment and firefighters spread thin around the state, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources last Friday imposed a statewide open burning and fireworks ban.
The statewide burn ban applies to private and public lands. The ban includes controlled burns, burn barrels, campfires and warming fires, even in fire rings. The only allowed outdoor burning is on gas barbecue grills and camp stoves that can be shut off by turning a valve.
Anchor Point and Alaska Division of Forestry firefighters went to one small fire about noon June 17 for a small open burn on Lifeboat Loop off the Old Sterling Highway in Anchor Point. Firefighters found a man burning insulation off copper wiring. State Forestry wrote the man a warning.
Kachemak Emergency Services also went to a small fire on Saturday at Mile 10 East End Road. A person saw a campfire and told the neighbor of the burn ban, but when they tried to put the fire out with water in a container, flammable material was in the container and it flared up. Firefighters put that fire out.
HVFD Chief Bob Painter and Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said most of the calls have been for visitors or locals who did not know of the burn ban. Homer firefighters found one campfire above Homer High School from an apparent homeless camp. People have generally been cooperative, Robl said.
With the upcoming Fourth of July holiday next weekend, firefighters are especially concerned about fireworks. The sale, possession and use of fireworks on the Kenai Peninsula and in Homer is prohibited. Firefighters, Homer Police and Alaska State Troopers will be paying special attention to fireworks use, Painter said in a press release.
To report illegal open burns, campfires and fireworks, call Homer Police at 235-3150 in city limits and Alaska State Troopers at 235-8239 outside city limits. If a fire is burning or smoke is seen, call 911. For information on the open burning suspension, call the Homer Volunteer Fire Department at 235-3155 inside city limits, Kachemak Emergency Service area at 235-9810 or the Anchor Point Fire Department at 235-6700.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at email@example.com.