Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2005

City suppresses construction fires

JUNEAU - Smoke conditions from the land-clearing burns at the Dimond Park high school construction site worsened overnight on Monday and Capital City Fire Rescue told Glacier State Contractors Tuesday to douse all but one fire, said Richard Etheridge, the department's fire marshal.

The fire department will allow Glacier State to burn the single controlled fire on the southwestern corner of the lot, away from the residences on River Court Way, Etheridge said. If smoke conditions do not remain at an acceptable level the fire department will order Glacier State to extinguish that fire as well, Etheridge said.

City ordinance dictates that open burns must be extinguished if the smoke interferes with residents' enjoyment of their life and property. But the fire department has to balance that with the contractors' need to clear the land, said Capital City fire chief Eric Mohrmann.

"We try to make sure that everyone's rights are protected," he said.

Mohrmann said the smoke conditions worsen during the night when workers are not feeding the fire. "In the morning, it's a mess." He said smoke conditions appeared to improve throughout the day on Tuesday.

Questions or complaints on this open burn can be directed to Glacier State Contractors at 789-4976 or the fire department at 586-5322.

Dipnetting fees help Kenai increasingly

KENAI - City coffers are netting more and more money each year as the popularity of salmon dipnet fishing continues to grow in Kenai.

The dipnet fishery draws thousands of Alaska residents to the mouth of the Kenai each July. For the most part, there are three places fishermen can go to catch sockeye with dipnets and all require a fee paid to the city.

"Dipnet revenues were up," Chuck Kopp, acting city manager, told the Kenai City Council last week.

Total revenue for the three-week personal-use fishery were $173,464 this year, up from $169,952 a year ago.

Final expenditure figures for dipnetting will not be available until the end of the month.

Expenses include staffing booths in the fishery entrances at south beach, north beach and at the city dock, portable toilet rentals, rule enforcement, beach cleanup and miscellaneous administrative costs.

Expenses last year totaled $69,123, leaving the city with a net income of $100,829 from the fishery.

Accident in Salcha kills two residents

SALCHA - Two people were killed in an accident when their car was sideswiped and sent into the Tanana River.

Leah Davis, 65, and Peggy Brewer, 49, both of Salcha, died Monday.

The two vehicles involved were traveling in opposite directions around a curve near 330 Mile Richardson Highway when they sideswiped each other, said Alaska State Trooper Mike Duffield.

Davis and her passenger, Brewer, were headed northbound in a 1988 brown Lincoln sedan. According to troopers, Davis lost control of her vehicle, skidded across the southbound lane and slid into the Tanana River. The car floated approximately 100 yards downstream before coming to rest near the north bank, where it sank.

Gina Yurkovich, 42, of Salcha was driving southbound in a 1992 Jeep Cherokee that skidded and overturned into the northbound ditch after the collision. Yurkovich sustained minor injures and was treated at the scene, troopers said.

North Pole police were the first to respond to the scene, followed by troopers, Salcha Rescue, a diver from the University Fire Department and a diver with the troopers.

Rescue divers in a raft were held in place in the river by a crane as they attempted to secure cables, chains and ropes to the vehicle. They were not able to dive underwater to the vehicle because of the force of the current in the silty, glacier-fed river.

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