Cloud cover throughout the operational period yesterday once again moderated fire behavior
on the 102,548-acre Swan Lake Fire burning in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge despite strong winds from the south. Interior islands of green fuels continued to burn out but there was little new perimeter growth. Water drops from helicopters were used to cool an area of heat near the Sterling Highway above Upper Jean Lake.
Another mile of progress was made on seeding operations yesterday as a mix of mechanical and hand seeding tactics were used on dozer lines to prevent erosion and to mitigate the threat of invasive weeds on disturbed soil. 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.
Drought codes are still very high and the fire is burning deep in ground fuels. It will take a substantial amount of precipitation to penetrate to the deeper duff layers. Fire personnel will continue to monitor fire activity and take further suppression action where necessary. There are 16 personnel still assigned to the fire, which is being managed by a Type 3 incident management organization from the Alaska Division of Forestry.
WEATHER: Temperatures are forecast to be near 80 degrees today and tomorrow but winds are expected to be light. There were isolated showers near the fire this morning. If skies are clear, we can expect some increase in fire activity.
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-skilaklake-sterling. A virtual joint information center (VJIC) has been set up online at http://www.kpboem.com for public information. Collaborating agencies are posting updates on safety, smoke impacts and fire-related information.
AIR QUALITY: The Kenai Refuge has set up sensors to monitor air quality in the fire area. Data from monitors in Cooper Landing can be viewed at haps://bnyurl.com/y3rsbkr5. The monitor in Sterling can be found at haps://bnyurl.com/y5ens5fv.
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 north from the refuge boundary east of Sterling. 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.