Firefighters in Kenai responded to a fire on the Kenai River south beach Thursday night.
“It was a fully involved fire," said Kenai Fire Chief Jeff Tucker.
"It turned out to be a Westfalia Volkswagen camper van. We responded down on the beach, we used one of our brush trucks, which are pickup trucks with 200-gallon water tanks with a pump. Our fire engines aren’t able to drive on the beach. We put the fire out. There were no injuries and at this time there’s no determination for what caused the fire.”
The beaches on either side of the river mouth are very soft and Tucker says even more than getting stuck in that sand, dip-netters and others on the beach need to be aware of the tides.
“We do have extreme high tides and extreme low tides here on the Kenai river. So, when you pull out there, if you’re the only vehicle parked where you’re parked and everybody else is parked up higher on the beach, it’s probably a good indication that you’re parked in the wrong place.
On some of the extreme high tides, most of the south beach area floods out. Very frequently, there are vehicles that get water-logged on the beach because they’ve parked at the wrong place.
The van last night that was on fire, earlier in the day, they had gotten stuck in soft sand and overheated their vehicle while trying to get out, so one of the potential causes of their fire might have been that the vehicle overheated and had some mechanical difficulties, but they were also stuck in the soft sand.
Taking your two-wheel (drive) vehicle down there on the beach may not be the best idea, but people do drive everything down there. They just have to be cognizant that the sand is soft and it’s not a hard-packed road down there on the beach.”
Tucker says they do have a variety of tools for emergency response on the beach in place of ambulances and other equipment that’s too big for those scenes. To stay up to date on tides, he recommends downloading the city’s new dip-netting app.