Kenai quake evacuees return to homes; road repairs set to begin

Aftereffects of the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that rattled Southcentral Alaska early Sunday morning are still being felt on the Kenai Peninsula.

Damages weren’t widespread, but they were devastating for residents of four homes in Kenai that were destroyed in fires caused by natural gas explosions.

A neighborhood along Lilac Lane at the north end of town was evacuated by 3 a.m. and residents spent the day at an emergency shelter set up at the Kenai National Guard Armory.

Residents were allowed back to their homes Sunday night and the American Red Cross was helping with temporary housing for the families that lost their homes.

By 10 p.m. Sunday, Enstar Natural Gas company reported that repairs were completed.

Natural gas service was restored to residents around Lilac by 11 p.m. Homer Electric Association restored power to most of the 44 meters in the area Sunday night, as well.

Fifteen meters were left without power last night at the request of fire officials due to hazardous conditions.

Schools are starting at their usual times this morning, although two bus routes serving Kasilof are running on altered schedules to avoid damage done to Kalifornsky Beach Road.

A 150-foot section of the road was damaged in the quake. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities closed the northbound lane Sunday morning and plans to begin repair work today.

A DOT spokesperson says no damages were found to bridges on the Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage or Matanuska-Susitna areas.

Geologists say the quake was the largest ever recorded in Cook Inlet. It hit at 1:30 a.m. Sunday on the west side of Cook Inlet, about 65 miles west of Homer, at a depth of 76 miles.

Several aftershocks followed, one measuring as much as magnitude 4.7.