A fire that began near Funny River Road in Soldotna has grown to nearly seven miles long and almost a mile wide, according to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources – Division of Forestry’s Facebook page. By 11 p.m. Monday the fire had consumed nearly 2,500 acres. Fire crews remained on the fire overnight – it has burned to an area about three miles from Tustumena Lake.
Smoke from the Funny River Road fire also prompted the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation to issue an air quality advisory on Tuesday morning. Dense smoke being blown south is impacting Kasilof, Ninilchik, Homer and nearby Kachemak Bay and lower Kenai Peninsula communities. The DEC has classified air quality as between good and unhealthy. Immediately downwind of the fire, air quality is classified as hazardous.
“Unhealthy” means that people with respiratory or heart disease, children and the elderly should avoid any outdoor activity. Everyone else should avoid prolonged exertion. “Hazardous” means everyone should avoid any outdoor exertion and that those at high risk should remain indoors.
Air quality can be estimated by looking at visibility. If visibility is 1.5-2.5 miles, air quality is unhealthy. If .9 to 1.4 miles, air quality is very unhealthy. If .8 miles or less, air quality is hazardous.
The National Weather Service also issued a red flag warning because of strong winds for the entire western Kenai Peninsula. A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are imminent or occurring. Winds are 10 to 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph near Cook Inlet. Relative humidity is 20 to 30 percent. The red flag warning is in effect until 9 p.m. Tuesday.