Extreme conditions make it imperative to obey no burning, no fireworks rules

With the second year of little snowfall, the Homer area is seeing unprecedented conditions for wildfire. The recent fires along the Kenai River and in the Mat-Su are vivid demonstrations of how quickly we can be impacted by wildfire. 

Due to the prevailing conditions, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and Division of Forestry have suspended all open burning for much of the state, including the entire Kenai Peninsula. This suspension includes all types of fires: burn piles, campfires, cooking fires, warming fires and even signal fires, with the exception of compressed gas grills or camp stoves. 

As long as conditions remain dry, and until we receive significant rainfall, these suspensions will likely remain in place. 

In addition to the open burning suspension, and to lessen the risk of wildfire, the Office of the State Fire Marshal has suspended the sale and use of fireworks for much of the state including the Mat-Su, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Copper River Valley, Anchorage, Fairbanks/North Star Borough, the Tanana Valley north of the Alaska Range and Western Alaska. This closure is in addition to the existing Kenai Peninsula Borough prohibition of fireworks sale and use. 

If you’ve lived in Homer for any time, you know that some folks routinely disregard the laws governing the use of fireworks, especially during the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve. Please remember that just because some folks choose to defy the law, doesn’t endorse this activity. 

This year, due to the extreme conditions I am encouraging everyone to please comply with these suspensions and not use fireworks to celebrate. There are provision in Homer City Code to allow some public firework displays, but only if proper permits are obtained from the state and city. 

Toward the goal of fire and injury prevention the Division of Forestry, the Homer Volunteer Fire Department, Homer Police Department and Alaska State Troopers will be paying special attention to fireworks use this season. Please help us by not starting any campfires and by not using any fireworks that may jeopardize your safety.

Bob Painter is the fire chief of the Homer Volunteer Fire Department.