Swan Lake Fire Evening Update – August 18, 2019

The extreme high winds that pushed the Swan Lake Fire across the Sterling Highway at MP 60 last night continued through the day today, pushing the fire into the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area north of Hideout Hill and east to Jim’s Landing. The Fire did cross the Upper Kenai River near the Kenai River Trail.  Fire growth in the Thurman Creek, Mystery Creek and Dike Creek drainages continued to the east. Flames from an interior area of the fire were carried through previously burned dry fuels to the Sterling Highway near mile 70, crossing the highway this afternoon.

Traffic on Sterling Highway between mile 53 to 75 was halted as of 1 p.m. today due to fire activity and risk from adjacent utility infrastructure. The highway will remain closed at least until Monday. This is an evolving safety situation and motorists are asked to avoid the area. Check for updates on this evolving situation at http://511.alaska.gov/.

Closures in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge have been extended to include the entire length of Skilak Lake Road. The Russian River Ferry was closed and cleared early today. Skilak Lake Road and all adjacent recreational trails and day use areas are closed. Previous closures are still in place and include Fuller Lake Trail, Skyline Trail, the Russian River Ferry, Hidden Lake Campground, Jim’s Landing, Sportsman’s Landing, Hideout Trail, and the Kenai River Trail.  

Closures in Chugach National Forest include the Russian River Campground, K’Beq Day Use Area, Barber Cabin, Russian River Falls, and the Russian Lakes Trail from the Russian River Campground south to Barber Cabin. Closures remain in place on Resurrection Pass Trail from the junction of Devil’s Pass south to the Sterling Highway. This closure includes the following public use cabins: West Swan Lake, Swan Lake, Trout, Romig, and Juneau. People with recreation-related questions should contact the Seward Ranger District Kenai Lake Work Center at 907- 288-3178.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough has issued a Level 1: Ready for the Cooper Landing community. A Level 1 (READY) evacuation alert is NOT a notice to leave. This alert means that you must be ready for potential evacuation. There is a fire in your local area. Assist family members with special needs, arrange to move mobile property (boats, trailers, ATV), and prepare pets or livestock. Monitor social media, news and radio for information.  Check for further information on www.kpboem.com or call the Borough Call Center at 907-262-INFO (4636) for updates.  

Air Quality Report  Air quality monitors have been set up near the fire area. Data from monitors in Cooper Landing can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/y3rsbkr5. The monitor in Sterling can be found at https://tinyurl.com/y5ens5fv.

Photo taken at the Upper Kenai River Trailhead, Saturday afternoon
[photo credit: Josh Turnbow, University of Alaska Crew Supervisor]

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