Swan Lake Fire June 22nd Update: Mop Up Continues on Southwest Control Line

Pioneer Peak Interagency Hotshot crew's last shift securing the critical southwest containment line is today. Photo of Kyle Bjalme courtesy Pioneer Peak IHC.
Pioneer Peak Interagency Hotshot Crew’s last shift securing the critical southwest containment line is today. Photo of Kyle Bjalme courtesy Pioneer Peak IHC.

 Yesterday more than 200 community members attended a fire information meeting with a complete update at the Sterling Community Center. The live stream of this meeting has been shared on the social media platforms listed here so that interested persons can review all of the information presented. The Operations Chief explained to the residents that the southwest containment line has halted the movement of the fire towards the community of Sterling. Residents and attendees were able to ask numerous questions of the Incident Commander and the cooperating agencies, and learned of the challenges and obstacles firefighters will continue to face over the next week in the Mystery Creek Road area due to weather, terrain, and fuels. 

Travelers are reminded that an inversion layer combined with smoke near MP60-70 has the potential to quickly reduce visibility which may require the use of pilot cars or alternate routes. Motorists are reminded to drive cautiously, use headlights, and give the right-of-way to any fire traffic in the area. 

The fire is approximately 12 miles long and nearly 4 miles wide with continued growth each day on the eastern flank as weather is driving the fire primarily to the east and north. The addition three type 2 Alaska hand crews as well as the recent influx of the Redmond, Wolf Creek, Vale, Winema and Lakeview hotshot crews have bolstered efforts to establish direct and indirect lines on the critical east and southeastern perimeter lines. 

Recently inserted hotshot crews are tasked with implementing strategies to slow down fire progression on the eastern flank as the fire has burned on the east side of Mystery Creek Road and towards high mountain terrain. Aerial resources continue to be instrumental as ground crews called in rotary and fixed wind aircraft to target areas of concern to slow fire spread towards the Sterling Highway. The fire is currently four miles to the north of the highway. The aerial firefighting campaign will ramp up today with the addition of “Scoopers” from Canada. These large airplanes are specially designed to scoop water from nearby Skilak and Hidden lakes and attack the fire’s edge. Those recreating in these areas should remain alert for and stay away from the center of the lakes for these firefighting aircraft. 

June 22nd Swan Lake Fire Information Map. The entire southwest corner is being mopped up by four crews.
June 22nd Swan Lake Fire Information Map. The entire southwest corner is being mopped up by four crews.

Firefighters and fire prevention specialists will be in the Sterling community to assess properties and provide information on the Ready, Set, Go! program. More information can be found at Firewise.org, Alaska.gov/fire/firewise or Wildland Fire – Ready Set Go! program. Residents are encouraged to sign up for KPB Alerts which is a Borough notification system whenever information needs to be rapidly conveyed to the community. Residents can text “KPB” to 99411 to receive a link to sign up on your mobile device. The Borough has made a fire interactive map available for residents and can be found under Current Situational Reports on the KPB emergency blog at http://www.kpboem.com 

WEATHER: Weather will continue to be warm with mild but shifting winds and moderate relative humidity. The inversion layer is expected to lift by mid-morning. An air quality advisory continues through Monday, June 24. 

June 22nd 7am traffic on the Sterling Highway was moving at the normal pace through the construction corridor milepost 60-72. Photo Alaska Incident Management Team
June 22nd 7am traffic on the Sterling Highway was moving at the normal pace through the construction corridor milepost 60-72. Photo Alaska Incident Management Team

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 at http://www.kpboem.com. The Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) around the fire are 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 personal drone operations are 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 5th, 2019
  • Acres: 23,210
  • Personnel assigned: 335
  • Crews assigned: 12
  • 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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