Saturday, April 30, 2005

It was a sultry summer-like morning, with thin high clouds giving us some relief from the sun. During the night, the smoke layer had settled over us, so the air smelled of wildfire. By mid-morning, a sea breeze was starting--just enough to clear the air and blow the smoke back toward the fire. The cloud cover thinned to scattered cirrus, except for the layer of smoke that drifted in from the east at mid-levels, lending an orange cast to the sunlight.

The contract weather observer had noted in his station log overnight: Around midnight an orange glow appeared on the [smoke] layer above the fire [though] no flames were [visible]. The fire appears to be out this morning..."

PD, when I relieved him, said that they weren't going to fight the fire--just let it burn.

Well, it turns out they both were wrong. It wasn't quite as hot today but by mid-afternoon, the winds (southwest at ten or so) had stirred the fire up enough so that an ominous column of smoke towered over the bluff.

The helicopter traffic from the fire area to the refueling ramp was busy enough to make it obvious that someone was interested in fighting the fire. By evening three plane-loads of firefighters had arrived as well. So much for PD 's take on things....

According to the news, no homes have been lost yet

Homer wildfire moves toward high country

Published: April 30th, 2005

HOMER (AP) - Shifting winds pushed a wildfire away from a Homer subdivision while firefighters worked to protect homes and clear protective fireline on Saturday.

The fire was estimated at 800 to 1,000 acres, said Kris Eriksen, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Forestry.

Most of the growth of the fire was in a north-northwest direction, away from populated areas, after a midday shift in winds, she said.

"It's burning almost due opposite, into the high country," she said. At elevation 1,500 feet, thereis still snow on the ground, less fuel to burn and much cooler temperatures, she said.

Fire managers expected the fire to calm down overnight as temperatures continued to drop.

"We had a big day in terms of gains in acreage," Eriksen said. "Thankfully it went mostly in a direction where nothing is threatened."

No one has been reported injured and no buildings have burned, she said.

A public meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. Sunday at Homer High School where fire managers will answer questions.

The fire was reported Friday afternoon and quickly doubled in size. It was about 2 miles from the Skyline subdivision, but remained on the opposite side of Fritz Creek.

There have been no evacuations ordered. The trigger point for evacuations would probably be if the fire crossed Fritz Creek, Eriksen said.

Between 60 and 70 firefighters were working the blaze and four other 16-person crews were expected. A fire management team from Fairbanks arrived Saturday.

The blaze came close to some homes in the Hutler Road area northeast of town, but none burned, she said.

Helicopters dumped water on the blaze at the direction of an airplane. Volunteer fire departments from Homer and Anchor Point also were helping out. Bulldozers were being used to clear firebreaks.

The weather on the Kenai Peninsula has been in the 70s and dry, but a change was expected to bring more seasonably cool temperatures beginning Sunday night.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Friday, April 29, 2005

There is a wildfire burning about five miles north of the airport.

I first noticed the thin wisps of white smoke about four hours ago. Now an ominous black cloud towers in the north, sending a long streamer of reddish-gray smoke south along the ridgeline at about thirty-five hundred feet.

We aren't expecting rain until early next week. Meantime, most of the state is baking under a dome of high pressure. Record high temperatures have been set for the past several days--in the sixties and seventies. It's hard to believe there was frost on the deck Tuesday morning. I dread the thought of another scorching summer, another record wildfire season.

Wildfires burned over six million acres last year, but there are plenty more acres left to burn this year. From the way the season is already shaping up, it is likely to happen.

The smoke plume has extended far enough to the west now to intersect the falling arc of the sun, lending a familiar orangish tinge to the daylight. I hate this. I hate the hot, dry days of pitiless sunshine. I hate living with the fear of fire. It is a long way to the wet season.

It is too soon for the fire season to start--but it has.

Monday, April 04, 2005


12 degrees, scattered clouds
Calm winds
2-3 inches of snow on the ground

It is cold this morning! It was bad enough getting up at what my body insists is four am but it was a worse shock to trundle out to climb into the truck to find thick frost on the windshield. Under clear skies, the overnight temperature dropped like a stone.