Lightning-fast response saves lodge from lightning-started fire

 Rainy Pass Fire (Photo by Alaska Division of Forestry Air Attack)
Rainy Pass Fire (Photo by Alaska Division of Forestry Air Attack) (KTUU)
Published: Jul. 24, 2019 at 10:23 PM AKDT
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It was just after seven in the evening when Steve Perrins, owner of the Rainy Pass Lodge, and his family noticed smoke near their home.

“We were sitting at the dinner table and saw this dust thing out by the runway, and thought 'what is that?’” Perrins says. “Looked out the window, realized it looked like a fire. Thought was there the possibility of an airplane crash or something. I went out the back door and realized it was smoke. We ran up to our corrals and saw flames."

The fire spread rapidly, threatening the lodge, its runway, and the tank of fuel at the end. fortunately, the Alaska Division of Forestry was quick to respond.

“It's just amazing to me how quickly they realized this is potentially a life-or-death situation, and were on top of it," Perrins says.

Perrins and his family were quickly evacuated in a Black Hawk helicopter, and the Division of Forestry sent in a small squad of firefighters to protect the structures.

“What they were able to do is get about half a dozen firefighters in there late last night to work to keep the fire from spreading and threatening the lodge," says Division of Forestry Public Information Officer Sarah Saarloos.

While the fire is not yet contained, the Division of Forestry, says the firefighters were successful in protecting the lodge.

“Firefighters were able to get in there and protect the structures with some pumps and hoses," Saarloos says

Perrins says some of his family and were able to return to the lodge today and are helping to care for the firefighters protecting their home.

“We're able to put housing up for them, cook for them, and take care of them as… giving back to what they've done to us to save our spot there." Perrins says.

Now that the lodge is protected, Perrins hopes that the firefighters, and the rain, will help keep it that way.

“By having the boots on the ground they can hopefully get that taken care of before this rain lets up, and doesn't give them a break," Perrins says.

Perrins particularly wanted to thank Gabrielle Rubenstein and Andy Harcombe for their roles in helping evacuate the lodge.

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