A Feb. 1 fire at an Iliamna incinerator site that burned an estimated $10,000 worth of containers, owned by the group supporting the proposed Pebble Mine, is being investigated by Alaska State Troopers.
According to a Monday AST dispatch, troopers were informed Feb. 3 of the incident, involving 10 plastic totes owned by the Pebble Partnership. Staff at the group’s Anchorage called troopers in King Salmon.
“The totes were inside a chain link enclosure and appeared to have been set on fire from outside the fence,” troopers wrote. “Each tote had a value of $1,000 and all ten totes were completely destroyed. Some of the wiring at the site was also damaged due to the heat from the fire.”
In an email to Channel 2, AST spokesperson Megan Peters says the totes, on the leased site of the Pebble-owned incinerator, were large containers similar to those used for fish at canneries. One held a load of ash, while the others were empty; the resulting fire also melted a switch near the fence’s entrance gate.
“Apparently locals put the fire out and left a message for the Iliamna trooper,” Peters wrote. “Now they are just bits of melted plastic.”
Pebble Partnership spokesperson Mike Heatwole says crews which maintain the Iliamna incinerator first learned about the incident early on Feb. 1.
"They got a call in the morning that 'Hey, there's this big fire,'" Heatwole said.
Heatwole described the burned containers as boxes about four feet square and three feet tall, used for taking trash to the incinerator. While he didn't immediately know if the containers were labeled as belonging to the Pebble Partnership, he says their ownership wasn't a secret.
"It's probably common knowledge that it was ours," Heatwole said.
Peters says it’s not clear whether the containers were specifically targeted because of their owners.
“It could just be someone wanted to burn something,” Peters said. “That happens a lot.”
AST asks anyone with information on the case to call troopers in King Salmon at 246-3464 or Iliamna at 571-1871.