On Friday, firefighters strengthened and reinforced fire lines along the Sterling Highway and East Fork Moose River. In the muskeg area of the Moose River in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, crews are mopping up the burn scar of the 2017 East Fork Fire, which has left a heavy load of dead and down trees, securing the perimeter.
A hotshot crew had been repositioned to assist protection of infrastructure along the ENSTAR gas pipeline, public use cabins and the Moose Research Center. The Swan Lake Fire has been slowly progressing to the northeast and continues to work through thick black spruce stands toward Cook’s Inlet.
Traffic along the Sterling Highway has resumed two-way movement for the beginning of the holiday week. Please use caution driving along the highway in the fire area, as firefighters are working along the road. A night crew will be patrolling and monitoring for smoke and flare-ups. If conditions deteriorate due to nighttime inversions, traffic delays may be possible.
Smoke and haze conditions on the Kenai Peninsula are expected to remain for the next few days. A high pressure system over the area is keeping smoke from moving away until Sunday or early Monday as a front moves in. People who are sensitive to smoke may want to stay near coastal areas if possible, as sea breezes help disperse the smoke.
Crews completed work Friday improving the Sterling Fire Break. The fire has continued burn in a mosaic pattern, removing hazardous fuels and providing for a resilient, healthy, more fire-resistant landscape for the future. To enhance community-wide safety, residents are encouraged to remove needles from roofs and flammable vegetation from around buildings. This one of the best ways to improve protection for your home. For information about other steps you can take to increase defensible space around your property, please visit http://forestry.alaska.gov/fire/firewise.
An interactive fire map can be found under Current Situational Reports on the Kenai Peninsula Borough emergency blog at http://www.kpboem.com. Map includes fire perimeter and land ownership overlaid on aerial photos. 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: Conditions will continue to be warm and dry, with very light winds 5-6 mph. High pressure and a later inversion break will cause smoke to hang around for the rest of the day. Cooler temperatures and slight chance of thunderstorms are expected Sunday as a change in weather is forecast. High pressure over the peninsula will return next week, returning to hot and dry conditions.
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. Personal drone operations are not permitted on the refuge.
KENAI NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE INFORMATION: The Skilak 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.