Fire crews conducted a strategic fire operation yesterday north of the Sterling Highway and the Homer Electric Transmission line. Utilizing aerial ignitions and ground support, firefighters took advantage of favorable conditions to establish a control line and draw the fire near the road system away from the Sterling Highway and into areas away from critical infrastructure. Crews worked through the night and successfully burned to milepost 68 and will continue to the west today.
Firefighters strengthened containment lines along the southwestern edge of the fire as they worked on mop-up and prepared areas near the East Fork Moose River for burnout operations. Along the north-eastern perimeter, firefighters implemented structure protection plans to protect public use cabins and Enstar Natural Gas infrastructure in that part of the refuge.
Motorists can expect traffic delays today as fire operations continue. Flaggers and pilot cars will be moving traffic through a single lane along sections of the highway as fire apparatus will be using one full lane for their operations. As hot and dry conditions increase, firefighters are working hard to coordinate efforts along the Sterling Highway. Aerial resources will continue to support efforts to secure the fire’s edge where fire growth is not desirable. Fire crews are providing 24 hour coverage. A night crew will patrol lines and evaluate smoke issues along the highway.
The Alaska Management Team is hosting a community meeting Wednesday, June 26, at the Sterling Community Center at 6 pm. Incident command staff will be on hand to provide fire information and to share the strategies and tactics being used to protect critical infrastructure throughout the community. All residents are welcome to attend and ask questions about this incident and to learn about the steps being taken to protect the community and critical infrastructure.
Residents are encouraged to sign up for KPB Alerts which is a Kenai Peninsula Borough notification system that rapidly conveys information to the community. Residents can text “KPB” to 99411 to receive a link to sign up on their mobile device. More information about fire prevention can be found atFirewise.org, Alaska.gov/fire/firewise or Wildland Fire – Ready Set Go! Program.
An interactive fire map, made by the Kenai Peninsula Borough and available for residents, can be found under Current Situational Reports on the KPB emergency blog at www.kpboem.com. Those accessing the map will find the fire perimeter as well as the land ownership parcels in the Sterling area. This makes it possible to see the distance between the fire and residential areas. For Kenai emergency information, please contact the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management call center at 907-262-INFO (4636) between 8am and 8pm.
WEATHER: Hot and dry conditions will increase today with winds from the northwest and the north by mid-day. An air quality advisory continues through Friday, June 28.
SAFETY: For current road conditions visit http://511.alaska.gov. The Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the fire area includes the Sterling Highway corridor 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.
KENAI NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE INFORMATION: TheSkilak Wildlife Recreation Area is closed to public use, including campgrounds, trails and cabins. Skilak Lake Road, along with Jim’s, Upper and Lower Skilak landings remain open.Contact the Refuge Visitor Center at 907-260-2820 or online at kenai.fws.gov.