Mt. Ballyhoo Fire Now Contained, Marking Second Large Fire To Burn In Unalaska In Two Weeks

Apr 30, 2020

 

A large fire broke out around 5 p.m. on Wednesday on the side of Mt. Ballyhoo near Dutch Harbor's Spit.
Credit Hope McKenney/KUCB

 

Officials at Unalaska's fire department are continuing to monitor Mt. Ballyhoo, where a large fire broke out Wednesday evening.

Patrick Shipp, fire chief at the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, said the department was notified around 5 p.m. about a fire that was likely started by a loose ember from a pallet fire near Dutch Harbor's Spit.

When fire crews arrived, it had already grown "pretty big," according to Shipp. And because of the terrain, fire personnel were unable to access the blaze. 

Crews continued to monitor the fire overnight from the bottom of the hill to protect Pacific Stevedoring (Pac Steve) bunk-housing and the Icicle Seafoods processing plant, and from the top of Ballyhoo to monitor communications towers.

As of Thursday morning, Shipp said the fire was "contained," but there are some hotspots crews will be patrolling throughout the day. 

"We kept crews out on the fire throughout the night, mostly just to make sure that we were able to protect all of the infrastructure at the top of the mountain," said Shipp. "We were able to put a pretty good [containment] line in last night right before it got really dark. We were able to control the line and make sure [the fire] didn't jump the road up to the towers."

All infrastructure was protected except for a few electrical lines, according to Shipp. He said some customers might have slower cell service until the lines are replaced. 

Shipp estimated around 100-150 acres burned, but said it is hard to get an accurate estimate by looking up the side of the mountain. A drone survey will get a better estimate this week. 

"Right now, I'm not going to call it completely out, just because there are still some smoking spots, but we're going to call it contained," said Shipp. 

The department is investigating how and why the fire started. 

This is the second large brush fire in Unalaska in the past two weeks. On April 17, the fire department responded to a large brush fire on Split Top Mountain, past Morris Cove, which started when two kayakers lost control of their campfire along shore. 50 acres were burned.