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Port Heiden beats back 10-acre fire

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Courtesy of Jaclyn Christensen.
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The fire is estimated to be about 12 miles northeast of the village. Community members have used a bulldozer and excavator to create fire breaks around the blaze.

On the Alaska Peninsula, residents of Port Heiden have been beating back a fire burning northeast of the village. It was last reported to be 12 miles from the community, according to the Alaska Fire Service.

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Credit Courtesy of Jaclyn Christensen
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A fire approximately 12 miles from Port Heiden.

“It is burning tundra, brush and grass. And the conditions are so dry right now that everything in its path is just going up in flames,” said Jaclyn Christensen, a resident of the village. 

Christensen said the fire was first spotted Sunday by a pilot flying over Second Cape. 

Community members have rallied to the frontlines of the blaze, using a bulldozer and excavator to create fire breaks.

“The heavy equipment operators have been working out there at the fire site since seven this morning," she said. "They finally got up to the site last night and went to bed at 1:00 in the morning and slept in the equipment out there.”

Those efforts are paying off; this afternoon the volunteer crew reported that they are controlling the fire, though it is not yet contained. West winds have also blown much of the smoke away from the village

The AFS has not staffed the Port Heiden fire, according to the service, because it isn’t threatening the village at this point.

Port Heiden has reached out to regional organizations for aide, and the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation provided masks to the community. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

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Credit Courtesy of Jaclyn Christensen
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Smoke in the village of Port Heiden.

Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org 907-842-2200.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.