Forest Service fighting 56-acre fire at Berners Bay

The Antler Fire burns in grass in a tidal flat area Thursday, May 31, near Berners Bay north of Juneau. U.S. Forest Service personnel are working to suppress the fire. (Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service)

The U.S. Forest Service is fighting a 56-acre fire along Berners Bay. It doesn’t pose a significant threat to anyone or any buildings and the fire itself isn’t moving.

Tongass National Forest spokesman Paul Robbins Jr. said the fire, located on the flats where the Antler River meets the bay, was reported Thursday.

“A lot of what’s burning is not actually trees or the forest. It’s the beach grass or downed trees along the beach,” Robbins said.

An Alaska Seaplanes operations manager said their pilots haven’t even noticed the fire. Still, Robbins said it’s unusual for Southeast.

“It’s definitely significant for here,” Robbins said. “I mean, around Juneau this year, we’ve had six fires so far, including this one. But the largest one up until this point was one and half acres, the Lucky Me fire in April. And the rest of them were about a tenth of an acre. So 56 acres is pretty significant for Southeast Alaska.”

Robbins said the Forest Service sent eight firefighters from Juneau and Hoonah, who are putting out hot spots and smoldering fires.

Robbins said campfires cause most forest fires he’s aware of in Southeast Alaska. But the cause of this fire isn’t known yet, he said. There will be an investigation.

Robbins noted the weather’s been dryer than usual and urges people to be careful with campfires and to extinguish them properly.

Jeremy Hsieh is the deputy managing editor of the KTOO newsroom in Juneau. He’s a podcast fiend who’s worked in journalism since high school as a reporter, editor and television producer. He ran Gavel Alaska for 360 North from 2011 to 2016, and is big on experimenting with novel tools and mediums (including the occasional animated gif) to tell stories and demystify the news. Jeremy’s an East Coast transplant who moved to Juneau in 2008.

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