Burn ban issued for entire Kenai Peninsula

Zaz Hollander

State and federal officials on Friday ordered a rare ban on open burning across the entire Kenai Peninsula.

With the Funny River fire looming as a dark presence over Memorial Day weekend, the Alaska Division of Forestry prohibited burning including campfires due to extremely dry and smoky conditions. There will be no campfires allowed anywhere on the Peninsula including state parks, U.S. Forest Service areas and private land. The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and Kenai Fjords National Park also announced bans on open fires including campfires and charcoal grills.

The Funny River Horse Trail Fire -- estimated Friday at more than 67,000 acres and threatening homes in Funny River, Kasilof and along Tustumena Lake -- was initially said to have started with an errant campfire, but fire officials now say the fire's cause remains under investigation.

The state Division of Forestry had already suspended burn permits on the Kenai, but campfires were still allowed during the upcoming holiday weekend. Top forestry officials said the campfire ban came in response to concerns voiced by locals at community meetings Thursday night in Kasilof and Funny River.

The municipality of Anchorage and Chugach State Park are under a burn ban similar to that in place now on the Peninsula. That means no open burning, including campfires or portable fireplaces, with the exception of covered gas, electric and charcoal grills and fish smokers.

The Mat-Su remains under a burn suspension prohibiting open burning but allowing campfires in approved fire rings three feet across or smaller, with water nearby. Campfires can't be left unattended.

Reach Zaz Hollander at zhollander@adn.com or 257-4317.