This photo of the Caribou Lake fire was taken about 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19, 2019, northeast of Homer, Alaska, about two hours after Ian Pitzman texted a message reporting the fire to his wife, Stephanie Pitzman, via an inReach satellite communication device. (Photo by Ian Pitzman)

This photo of the Caribou Lake fire was taken about 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19, 2019, northeast of Homer, Alaska, about two hours after Ian Pitzman texted a message reporting the fire to his wife, Stephanie Pitzman, via an inReach satellite communication device. (Photo by Ian Pitzman)

North Fork Fire nears containment; Ready alert canceled

Caribou Lake Fire continues to grow slowly

The North Fork Fire between Anchor Point and Homer is nearing full containment and the Ready alert for people living in that area has been canceled.

Public Information Officer Sarah Saarloos with the Alaska Division of Forestry said the Level 1 “Ready” notice was lifted at 10 a.m. Friday. The North Fork Fire is 75% contained, she said.

“And the crews are looking at reaching that goal of 100 percent containment by the end of shift tomorrow (Saturday),” Saarloos said.

The crews fighting the North Fork Fire are Anchor Point Emergency Services, the Homer Volunteer Fire Department, the Zigzag Hotshot crew from Washington and Alaska’s Yukon Type 2 Initial Attack Crew. The North Fork Fire is in the Kachemak Emergency Services area, but KES firefighters have been deployed to the Caribou Lake Fire.

“They’ve been mopping in front of the containment line about 50-75 feet,” Saarloos said. “What that means is extinguishing any remaining heat that is burning deep into the moss and being able to make sure that that whole perimeter of the fire is cold.”

The Caribou Lake Fire burning 25 miles northeast of Homer is going to take more time and effort to bring under control. It’s currently 20% contained and estimated at 848 acres. This is a more accurate measure, Saarloos said, because now that the Caribou Lake Fire is being commanded by the Great Basin National Incident Management Team 1 — the same team commanding the Swan Lake Fire between Sterling and Cooper Landing — crews were able to take a flight with infrared equipment Thursday night to get a more accurate mapping of the fire perimeter.

“The Caribou Lake Fire burned in a very mosaic pattern, and it’s burning very deep,” Saarloos said.

This means it’s going to take a lot of manual labor and a whole lot of water to bring it under control. The crews fighting this fire — Alaska smokejumpers from the Bureau of Land Management, the Redding Hotshots from California and members from the local Kachemak Emergency Services — are continuing their work on the ground as well as using aviation resources for water dumping, Saarloos said.

Because this is a full suppression fire, the end goal is 100% containment, Saarloos said. It’s estimated that full containment will be achieved by Sept. 4, and that’s based on information coming directly from the field, she said.

Several additional firefighting crews arrived on the peninsula within the last day or so, and they will be divided up between the Swan Lake Fire and the Caribou Lake Fire, Saarloos said.

There are currently no Ready notices or alerts from the Kenai Peninsula Borough for people on the southern Kenai Peninsula due to the Caribou Lake Fire, she said.

For more information, check the Alaska Interagency Fire Information Office at 907-356-5511 or visit https://akfireinfo.com/. Additional updates on the Caribou Lake Fire will be posted on InciWeb, or Incident Information System, at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6539/.

There were no changes in fire activity posted to the Alaska Interagency Fire Information website by the end of Friday. There area no road closures or evacuations associated with the Caribou Lake Fire and no temporary flight restrictions in the airspace over the area.

Fire officials will hold a community meeting at 3 p.m. Saturday at McNeil Canyon School, located at 52188 East End Road, to brief the public on the status of the fire.

The cause of the Caribou Lake Fire is still undetermined.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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)

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