Downed power line started fire near Snag Point in Dillingham on Sunday

2022-06-15 17:08:52 By : Mr. Alfred Wang

A falling tree knocked down a power line in downtown Dillingham over the weekend, sparking a fire and initially causing a widespread power outage.

Wind gusts topped 60 miles per hour Saturday night, and it appears they blew over a rotten birch tree that then fell into a power line by Snag Point, breaking it, according to the local utility Nushagak Cooperative.

Volunteers with Dillingham’s fire department said the downed power line then started a fire in the dried grass.

Reed Tennyson, who lives in the area, said the fire came within feet of a neighbor’s house.

“The fire was within probably 50 yards from the house I'm currently living in and then it was probably 60 yards from the house that I'm remodeling," he said. "It was kind of like a triangular between the the two houses. So I had a vested interest in getting the fire out for sure.”

Tennyson said his girlfriend heard two loud bangs between 3:00 and 5:00 a.m. Then a crew member with the co-op knocked on the door and told them there was a fire outside. Tennyson ran to his boat to grab a fire extinguisher as one of the cooperative’s crew members was hooking up an extension to the garden hose.

“It was pretty freaky," he said. "I have a container van and like when I ran out the door I can see orange flames above the top of my container van. It was tall. I was very surprised at how tall it was. I think it probably got close to 20 feet,15 feet tall at one point.”

Tennyson said the fire was about 35 feet wide and 75 feet long, and that he and the workers were able to put it out within five minutes. Dillingham’s volunteer fire department also assisted in the response.

The fire did not cause any major damage and no one was injured. Power was restored downtown about seven hours after the initial outage.

Warm, sunny weather is forecast for the Bristol Bay region heading into the holiday weekend. The Division of Forestry says people can help prevent wildfires by monitoring anything that can emit sparks or hold embers, including equipment, burn barrels, charcoal and ashes.

Resources for fire safety: Preparing for wildfire season in Alaska — Alaska Fire Service

Recreating responsibly — Bureau of Land Management

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