Swan Lake Fire crews successfully burn and hold southwest containment lines

Firefighters secured the southwest corner of the Swan Lake Fire yesterday. Retardant ships slowed growth to the east. Photo credit: Gannett Glacier Type 2IA fire crew

Warmer conditions with light and variable coastal winds pushed the Swan Lake Fire to grow 3,000 acres with perimeter growth primarily in the southern and eastern flanks. The fire buring in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is now estimated at 18,353 acres and there are currently 183 personnel working to manage the fire.

As a response to the wind pushing fire growth towards the community of Sterling, hand crews including Pioneer Peak, Gannett Glacier, UAF Nanooks, and Yukon Fire crew performed successful burn and hold operations along the southwestern indirect containment lines. Crews will focus their efforts today to hold, strengthen and mop up this critical fireline which prevents fire spread towards the private homes, businesses and infrastructure in Sterling.

The persistent winds fanned activity on the eastern flank pushing the fire east towards Mystery Creek Road. These black spruce forests have not burned since 1947 and are extremely receptive to carrying fire. Aerial resources including helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft worked yesterday afternoon to slow fire spread to the east and eliminate hot spots. Air tankers dropped six loads of retardant in the vicinity of Mystery Creek Road and limited growth to the east of the road to an estimated 100 acres. Yesterday’s natural fire growth and firing operations produced several columns of smoke that were visible across the Kenai Peninsula. Smoke was along the Sterling Highway corridor, Cooper Landing and the surrounding areas.

June 20th map of the Swan Lake Fire

Five hotshot crews from the Lower 48 with expertise in strategic firing will begin arriving today. Crews will remain intently focused on holding the firelines in the southwest while searching for spot fires, which land in front of the fire and have the potential to encourage new fire growth. Fire personnel will continue to work to slow fire spread in the Mystery Creek Road area, while assessing the existing road systems for control lines.

Firefighters and fire prevention specialists continue to visit Sterling community neighborhoods to assess properties. There is currently no immediate threat to Sterling but now is the time to be prepared. More information can be found at Firewise.org,Alaska.gov/fire/firewise or Wildland Fire – Ready Set Go!

OBJECTIVE: Fire managers with the Alaska Division of Forestry are working collaboratively with Kenai National Wildlife Refuge personnel to manage the fire. The focus of all suppression efforts is to protect all of the values at risk including the community of Sterling and the highway corridor while reducing future wildland fire hazards and enhancing wildlife habitat.

COMMUNITY MEETING: The Alaska Incident Management Team is hosting a community meeting Friday, June 21, at the Sterling Community Center at 6pm. Incident command staff will be on hand to provide fire information and will share the strategies and tactics being used to protect critical infrastructure throughout the community. All interested residents are welcome to attend and ask questions about this incident and efforts being made to protect the community and critical infrastructure.

Light winds pushed the east flank of the Swan Lake Fire towards Mystery Creek Road. Photo Alaska Division of Forestry

WEATHER: Today is expected to be warmer than yesterday with a high that could approach 75 degrees, with light winds shifting in direction.

SAFETY: Motorists are urged to yield to fire apparatus entering the Sterling Highway and to adhere to traffic signage staged near miles 82 and 92. Observing the fire from a safe location should be practiced instead of stopping along the highway. For current road conditions visit http://511.alaska.gov. Supporting agencies are posting fire and smoke-related information, official updates and helpful links atwww.kpboem.com. The Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is still in effect to support suppression efforts and firefighter safety. Pilots can confirm the current TFR restrictions at tfr.faa.gov. Be advised that drone operation is not permitted on the refuge.

OBJECTIVE: Fire managers with the Alaska Division of Forestry are working collaboratively with refuge personnel to manage the fire. The focus of all suppression efforts is to protect all of the values at risk including the community of Sterling and the highway corridor while reducing future wildland fire hazards and enhancing wildlife habitat.

FIRE INFORMATION: Call the Fire Information line at 208-391-3488, visit kpboem.com or inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6387/

KENAI NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE INFORMATION:  Contact the Refuge Visitor Center at 907-260-2820 or online at kenai.fws.gov.

  • Start Date: June, 2019
  • Acres: 18,353
  • Personnel assigned: 183
  • Crews assigned: 4 – (Pioneer Peak Hotshots, Gannett Glacier Type 2 IA, Yukon and UAF Nanooks Type 2 Crew)
  • Cause: lightning

For More Information

  • Incident phone number: (208) 391-3488
  • Inciweb.nwcg.gov
  • Facebook @BLMAFS
  • Twitter @BLM_AFS
  • Firewise: firewise.org

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