An approximately 2-acre forest fire is burning north of Ketchikan’s road system. U.S. Forest Service crews are fighting the fire, with assistance from the North Tongass Fire Department.
Forest Service Spokesman Paul Robbins Jr. said Tuesday morning that the fire started around 4 p.m. Monday on state land in the Moser Bay area.
“We had firefighters out last night and they were out there overnight, a five-person forest service crew,” he said. “Even though it’s on state land, we’re helping with that because we still have some jurisdiction. We were also assisted by the North Tongass borough fire crew. The were in the water, spraying from there.”
State Division of Forestry’s Chris Maisch confirmed that the Forest Service is the suppression agency in the region, and referred questions about the Moser Bay fire to that agency.
Robbins says the north end of the fire has been knocked down, and crews were focusing efforts on the south end. He says additional crew members are arriving from the Chugach National Forest.
As of Tuesday morning, the fire was not yet contained.
Southern Southeast Alaska has experienced unusually dry weather this year, which has increased fire danger for the surrounding forest. But, Robbins said forest fires are not that unusual in Southeast Alaska, even during a normal-rain year.
“We don’t get fires like the Lower 48, hundreds and thousands of acres like we’re seeing in California, but we’ve had over a dozen fires in Southeast Alaska this year,” he said. “They’re usually started by campers not putting out their campfires properly, not dousing them the way they should, or somebody burning trash in a barrel, and the wind picks up some of it and takes it to a nearby tree or brush that’s just dry enough to start.”
Robbins said the average size of a forest fire in Southeast Alaska is a tenth of an acre. So 2 acres is large for this area.
He said it’s unclear how long it will take to put out the Moser Bay fire. The crew from the Chugach will add six more firefighters to the five already there.
Robbins said updates about the fire will be provided on the Tongass National Forest Facebook page.
UPDATE at 3 p.m. Wednesday:
According to Tongass National Forest spokesman Paul Robbins Jr., the fire is now 15 percent contained. It’s still around 2 acres in size.
Robbins says Tuesday night’s rainfall helped somewhat. Extra firefighters from the Chugach National Forest are arriving Wednesday.