Kenai Peninsula set-netters were already having a bad summer, following the early closure of their fishery earlier last month.
That situation turned from bad to worse for four set-net families late last week when their beach sites in Clam Gulch were vandalized. Alaska State Troopers said they have since identified and charged the vandals, two juveniles, through their posts on social media.
One of the vandalized cabins belongs to third-generation setnetters Debbie and Doug Blossom.
“It’s pretty tough to have a good year, let alone a big year," Doug Blossom said. "So, yeah. It’s going to be tough to cover expenses like this and replace things when you didn’t have a good year to begin with.”
Set-netter Brent Johnson said he noticed something was up Thursday night, when he saw a broken-down pickup truck on the beach with its windows bashed in.
The next morning, he heard from a neighbor that all the windows at the Blossoms’ cabin, down the beach, were also broken. The two went inside to investigate.
"And holy smokes, the place was a disaster," he said.
He said the fridge was tipped over and there were broken dishes and appliances all over the floor. Nothing was stolen but Blossom estimates the damage could cost him between $5,000 and $8,000.
Blossom said the cabin, which was built by his father, has always been at the mercy of the tides. But it’s never been vandalized before.
"Always it was from a rockslide or water," he said. "Never from humans. But it’s been a cabin that’s in the family business forever.”
The vandals hit two other cabins and damaged two trucks, including the pickup Johnson saw on the beach Thursday night.
But they ran out of gas and had to abandon it on the beach. Johnson said they didn’t steal anything from any of the sites.
An Alaska Wildlife Trooper and Alaska State Trooper from Anchor Point responded Saturday, said Troopers spokesperson Austin McDaniel. Troopers said they were able to identify two juvenile perpetrators after they saw social media posts taken at the site.
“There’s something called Snapchat and one of the people who did the vandalism, or one of their friends, put something on Snapchat about it," Johnson said. "And that was other evidence the police had.”
Johnson said he was pleased with such a quick and thorough reaction from police.
“It’s just a weight off everybody’s mind to know that this has been taken care of," he said.
His site was fine, he thinks because there was still a crew member there.
Blossom said he hopes the parents take some ownership of the situation.
“It’s really tough growing up in the setnet industry that’s just hanging on by a thread right now because of the politics and the king escapement," he said. "And it’s really tough when someone just goes randomly down and destroys your private property like that.”
Troopers said they contacted the two juveniles involved and forwarded their charges to the Division of Juvenile Justice.
This story has been updated to include photos of the damage.