Ketchikan: Cleveland Peninsula fire takes 5 acres

Posted: Sunday, May 12, 2002

A forest fire started Sunday, May 5, near Vixen Harbor on the northwest side of the Cleveland Peninsula, burning about five acres before the U.S. Forest Service extinguished it Tuesday afternoon.

The usually rain-soaked Tongass National Forest has been dry and sunny this spring. The atypical weather pattern, generally considered a blessing by human inhabitants, has created the perfect atmosphere for fire, said Dennis Neill, public affairs officer for the Forest Service in Ketchikan.

There have been about 20 forest fires in Southeast Alaska during the past two weeks. Neill said Tuesday that's about twice the number reported in Southeast during all of last summer. All, including the fire near Vixen Harbor, were started by humans.

"Typically, people are accustomed to having a fire on the beach or in the woods, and don't worry about it," Neill said. "It's unusual to have weather this dry where fire is a hazard."

But, he said, no matter what the weather has been, it's illegal to leave a fire burning. Neill said the Forest Service is investigating the fire on Cleveland Peninsula, and if the agency finds out who caused it, the person could be fined up to $5,000.

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