Three wildfires burned across borough
October 18, 2018
U.S. Forest Service firefighters and local volunteers have combatted wildfires in the upper valley and near Battery Point during the past several weeks, and monitored a fire in the Lutak area.
Nine Forest Service firefighters responded to a fire at Pine Knob near the Tsirku River. A moose hunter reported smoke near an old logging site, said Klehini Volunteer Fire Department volunteer Mark Kelly. The fire started in a pile of wood debris beneath a deck that was used for loading timber. Firefighters began extinguishing the fire, that was mostly underground, on Sept. 19.
“When we left the night of the 19th it was just kind of a field of ash with these burnt knuckles sticking up here and there,” Kelly said. “That evening the wind picked up. The next morning the ground level was lower, the wind came in and blew the ash away and stoked the coals.”
Firefighters had to dig up smoldering logs, chop them into sections and soak them with water, Kelly said. Firefighters finally controlled the one-third-acre fire on Sept. 23.
On Oct. 10, two Forest Service firefighters responded to a .01-acre fire at Battery Point.
The fires were human-caused, said Forest Service public information officer Paul Robbins, but are still under investigation. No more specific information was available, he said Tuesday.
Firefighters noticed another fire north of the Katzehin River mouth last week, located on about .1 acre of steep terrain at an elevation of 1,500 feet, Robbins said. No firefighters responded because the forecasted rain was expected to extinguish it.
Tongass National Forest fire management officer Tristan Fluharty said the unusually dry weather contributed to the wildfires.
Haines Volunteer Fire Department officials did not respond to calls for comment.