The 11 miles of dozer line constructed to control the spread of the Swan Lake Fire north of the Sterling Highway have been repaired and reseeding operations began Monday, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry. Fire personnel are utilizing a hydro-seeder as well as hand-seeding on steeper slopes to prevent erosion and to mitigate the threat of invasive weeds on disturbed soil.
With higher temperatures and breezy conditions over the past few days there has been an increase in fire activity on the east side of the fire, primarily on ridgetops above the Thurman Creek and Mystery Creek drainages. There is also activity on the steep, south facing slopes of Mystery Hills as the fire smolders and creeps down toward the Sterling Highway near Upper Jean Lake. Water drops from helicopters will be used to cool the edge and check the fire spread above the lake, and motorists traveling in the area are advised to be alert for other drivers potentially distracted by the smoke, the occasional torching tree, and helicopter operations.
This summer saw record drought conditions across Alaska and fires are burning deep. It will take a substantial amount of precipitation to penetrate to the deeper duff layers. Fire personnel will continue to monitor fire activity in the steep, rugged terrain and take further suppression action where necessary.
There is no immediate threat to values in the area, however, some area closures remain in effect. Natural fire on the landscape tends to burn in a mosaic pattern, removing areas of highly-flammable black spruce as well as smoldering through mixed spruce and hardwoods. This will not only reduce the potential for future large-scale fire impacts but also leave a diverse network of habitat types that meet the needs of a variety of different wildlife within the fire area
WEATHER: Warm temperatures and dry conditions are expected again today and tomorrow in the fire area. Cloud cover today should limit surface heating somewhat, but strong south winds in the afternoon could lead to another day of active fire behavior, especially where the wind and slope align. There is a potential for convective column activity in the Dike Creek drainage to the east of Mystery Creek today if south winds push the fire north.
SAFETY: Smoke from the fire is visible from the Sterling Highway between mileposts 65 and 75. Motorists are advised to slow down, turn headlights on when smoke is present, and use caution driving through the fire area. For current road conditions visit http://www.alaskanavigator.org/projects/sterling-highway-rehabilitation-skilak- lake-sterling. A virtual joint information center (VJIC) has been set up online at www.kpboem.com for public information. Collaborating agencies are posting updates on safety, smoke impacts and fire-related information.
CLOSURE INFORMATION: Due to ongoing fire activity in the area, Refuge Managers have closed the following access routes within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to the public: Mystery Creek Road and the Enstar Pipeline right-of-way from the refuge boundary east of Sterling to the Chickaloon River. Questions or requests for copies of the closure order or maps should be directed to the Refuge at (907) 262-7021. People with recreational-related questions should contact the Refuge visitor center at (907) 260-2820.
FIRE INFORMATION: To more information and to speak with a fire information officer call 208-391-3488