Story last updated at 5:52 PM on Friday, May 15, 2009

East End Road open to residents

Community meeting on fire is Saturday<

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer

A light rain on Friday helped wildland firefighters make progress on attacking the Mile 17 East End Road fire.

"The weatherman is making us look like heroes," said Pete Buist, a fire information officer with the Alaska Division of Forestry.

A community meeting on the fire is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Homer High School Commons. Officials will be on hand to talk about the fire and give the latest update.

Firefighters made significant progress Friday on mopping up what they call "slop overs," or areas where fire had breached a containment line. Crews worked slop overs at Jones Road, East Fork Road and Falls Creek East Road today.


Map by Alaska Division of Forest

A map of the Mile 17 East End Road fire shows the perimeter as mapped on Thursday night. Much of the area within the fire, including homes, was not burned.

"They're just about whupped," Buist said of the problem areas.

About 225 crew are on the fire, including firefighters from Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Anchor Point and the central Kenai Peninsula.

Estimates on containing the fire are now about 25 percent of the fire's perimeter. Forestry officials estimated the area surrounded by the perimeter to be 1,074 acres. Not every place in that area is burned. Officials described the burned area as being a "mosaic" of burned and unburned land.

Officials this afternoon opened East End Road to local residents on a limited basis. Alaska State Troopers have set up a roadblock and checkpoint at about Mile 17 East End Road. Residents living along the road east of Mile 17, including the Russian Old Believer villages of Voznesenka, Razdolna and Kachemak Selo, will be allowed access to check on their homes.

An evacuation order remains in effect, Buist said. Because there is still significant fire danger, officials advise residents not to stay in the area.

"Even though there's no raging front, there's still a lot of heat," Buist said.

Fire officials advised residents wanting to drive to their homes to do so in the late morning after 10 a.m. Firefighters make their shift changes between 8 and 9 a.m., and there is increased fire vehicle traffic at that time.

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