This map provided by the Great Basin National Incident Management Team 1 shows the perimeter of the Caribou Lake Fire, burning about 25 miles northeast of Homer, Alaska. (Image courtesy Great Basin National Incident Management Team 1)

This map provided by the Great Basin National Incident Management Team 1 shows the perimeter of the Caribou Lake Fire, burning about 25 miles northeast of Homer, Alaska. (Image courtesy Great Basin National Incident Management Team 1)

Caribou Lake fire is now 85% contained

According to the latest update from the Alaska Wildland Fire Information website, the Caribou Lake Fire reached 85% containment as of Saturday.

This week, firefighters continued to secure control lines and mop up to reduce the potential for spot fires and to secure the northern edge of the fire. Unless the Caribou Lake Fire changes significantly, fire officials said there will be no more updates.

In a press release Friday from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, officials ask hunters to be aware of fire conditions in the Swan Lake fire area (Unit 15A) and the Caribou Lake fire area (Unit 15C) now that hunting season starting soon.

“ADF&G has not issued any emergency orders closing hunting opportunities on the Kenai Peninsula; however, hunters in Unit 15A should be aware of emergency area land closure orders from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service for portions of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and the Chugach National Forest- Seward Ranger District, along with potential highway closures or long delays which may impact travel to other areas of the Kenai Peninsula,” the release said. “There are no land closures in Unit 15C associated with the Caribou Lake fire, but hunters should give fire crews plenty of space.”

A helicopter pad called a helispot has been set up in a gravel pit on Basargin Road to support of firefighting efforts. Helicopters will be shuttling crews and supplies from the area. Officials ask people to avoid parking in the area near the helispot for the safety of the firefighters and public.

Located 25 miles northeast of Homer, the Caribou Lake Fire started on Aug. 19 near the popular recreation area. No injuries have been reported and no structures to date have been lost in the fire. Alaska Division of Forestry, Kachemak Emergency Services and crews from the Lower 48 fought the fire. The fire is being managed as a full-suppression fire with a goal of 100 percent containment estimated by Sept. 4. Until there is significant and repeated rain, smoke may be visible from within the interior of the fire perimeter.

According to the latest update, with the first of two low-pressure weather systems moving into the Kenai Peninsula, there is a 25% chance of wetting rain overnight on Friday. Expect cooler weather with scattered showers on Saturday. The second low-pressure system will move in on Sunday, with wind gusts increasing to 22 miles per hour and a 50% chance of rain. A similar weather pattern will move in on Monday and Tuesday, with lighter winds.

A Dense Smoke Advisory remains in effect for the western Kenai Peninsula, including the Kenai, Soldotna, Homer and Cooper Landing until 1 p.m. today.

Fish and Game has also advised hunters of logistical challenges with road closures, poor visibility or air quality from smoke, downed trees and the possibility of getting caught in the path of rapidly moving firs. In burned areas, hunters should be aware of ash pits that remain hot where trees have burned to the roots and may be hard to see. Stepping into ash pits can cause serious injury. Hunters also should be aware that trucks and trailers left near fire zones could impeded firefighting work or be damaged by fire.

A burn ban remains in effect for the Kenai Peninsula. That prohibits all open burning, including camp or warming fires, charcoal grills and fires, even in established fire pits or rings in campgrounds.

For more information, here is a list of online resources:

• Caribou Lake Fire updates on InciWeb- Incident Information System: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

• InciWeb- Chugach National Forest Special Closure Order Map (as of Aug. 28, 2019):

https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/map/6387/1/95360

• Kenai Peninsula Borough Joint Information Center: http://kpboem.blogspot.com/

• Alaska DOT Traveler 511 Info: http://511.alaska.gov/alaska511/mappingcomponent

• Alaska Wildland Fire Information: https://akfireinfo.com/

• Kenai National Wildlife Refuge closures: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/kenai/

• Chugach National Forest closures: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/chugach/alerts-notices

• Fire safety information: https://www.alaskacenters.gov/trip-planning/stewardship/safety/fire-safety

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

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