Rain Falls On Funny River Fire, Provides Some Relief

Public Information Officer Jim Schwarber briefs the media about the Funny Rover fire on Tuesday morning. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN - Anchorage)
Public Information Officer Jim Schwarber briefs the media about the Funny Rover fire on Tuesday morning. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

The Funny River fire has grown to more than 182,200 acres.

After a streak of warm, dry weather, firefighters are seeing a break in the weather, with rain falling Tuesday during the early morning hours and temperatures in the 50s.

“The rain that fell this morning was enough to knock the fire down, but certainly not enough to put it out,” Rob Allen, the incident commander for the Funny River fire, said.

Officials say the weather pattern should hold for at least the next couple days.

“We’re gonna see waves of precipitation as they move up through Cook Inlet on up into our area and then up into the Mat-Su Valley,” Scott Berg, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, said. “That should help quite a bit with kinda keeping everything calmed down.”

Allen says there has been enough rain to dampen the grass, which should keep the fire from spotting and creeping ahead. But, it will take quite a bit more rain to affect the black spruce, which has been one of the fire’s main fuels.

“Normally we look at three days of good rain in a row,” Allen said. “Any time you get a break in that and there’s some sun that comes out, the grasses will dry incredibly fast, the rest of the fine fuels will dry really fast, and then you’re back over starting at square one.”

So far, five structures have been lost in the fire – one outbuilding and four recreational cabins. None of the structures were accessible by road.

With the western edge of the fire mostly contained. Most of the focus is on the northeast portion of the fire, where it jumped the Kenai River.

Bernie Pineda, a fire information officer with the Alaska Inter-Agency Team, says they will coordinate with the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to see what, if anything, will be done along the southern and eastern edges, which remain mostly unchecked.

“It’s kind of a roadless area, so the accessibility is gonna be very, very difficult to say the least. So we’re either gonna have to hike in, drop people off using helicopters or other ways, and spiking them out,” Pineda said. “So, it’s their call as to how much or how little they want us to do on that one on this end of the perimeter itself.”

There are currently 689 personnel working on the fire.

Evacuation advisories have been lifted for Kasilof and the Kenai Keys subdivision.

Josh is the Statewide Morning News Reporter/Producer for Alaska Public Media | jedge (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8455 | About Josh

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