Update, 9 a.m. Thursday: State wildland firefighters working the Caribou Fire near Homer reported containment up to 20% Wednesday night, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry. Crews on Thursday will continue to work on the ground, with helicopter and aircraft support as needed, officials say.
Crews from multiple firefighting agencies worked Wednesday to contain a small wildland fire northeast of Homer as warm and dry conditions persist through much of Southcentral Alaska.
The Alaska Division of Forestry said crews performed an initial attack on what’s being called the Caribou Fire, about 23 miles from Homer and 2 miles west of the Fox River area at the head of Kachemak Bay.
As of 6:30 p.m., the fire was estimated to be about 13.3 acres and was remaining within the footprint established by air tankers dropping fire retardant. There are several structures nearby, the fire officials said, and there are about 27 “mostly primary off grid residences” within a mile of the wildfire’s perimeter.
“Currently the cause of the fire is under investigation and reportedly started near a residence,” Kenai fire management officer Howie Kent said in an update posted to the Division of Forestry’s Facebook page.
The fire was burning in what the forestry division described as a remote area not accessible by road, and no evacuations have been ordered. Multiple agencies were responding to the fire, including Kachemak Emergency Services, according to the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
The nearby communities of Voznesenka, Razdolna and Kachemak-Selo were notified of the fire, said Brenda Ahlberg, emergency manager for the borough. She said the borough used its emergency alert system to notify about 900 people in the area through landlines and cellphones.
Kent noted that the area hasn’t seen significant rainfall in more than a month, creating notably dry conditions, and asked people to “please follow the burn permit suspensions and other wildfire related advisories in your area.”
As part of the initial response to the wildfire, two air tankers dumped retardant on the ground around it, the forestry division said in an online report. The division deployed 12 smokejumpers to work on the ground, while three helicopters worked to drop buckets of water on the wildfire, as well as shuttle members of the Pioneer Peak Interagency Hotshot Crew to the scene.
The hotshots were already in the area, having responded to another fire east of Homer a week earlier. Kale Casey, an information officer with the forestry division, said that made the response easier and faster.
Another factor working in the division’s favor was the fact that both air tankers were available to be used on the fire. Normally, Casey said one of them is in Fairbanks.
“So we have extra resources,” he said.
A burn suspension has been in place on the Kenai Peninsula since May 10 as unusually dry and warm conditions for this time of year persist in much of Southcentral Alaska.
The Municipality of Anchorage has been under a burn ban since this past Friday, and the National Weather Service issued a “fire weather watch” for the Anchorage area that begins Friday morning and last through Saturday evening for conditions that could heighten the possibility of fires igniting and spreading.
[Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the last fire in the Homer area happened less than a week ago. It occurred one week ago.]