Swan Lake Fire Update – August 20, 2019

One lane of Sterling Highway to reopen at 10:00 am this morning. Pilot cars will be escorting traffic in alternating directions with flaggers at either end of the affected area between MP53 and MP75. Alaska State Troopers will be patrolling the area and monitoring traffic. No stopping along this section of the Sterling Highway will be allowed at this time. Motorist are advised to proceed cautiously through the affected area, drive with their lights on if there is smoke present, and watch for firefighting personnel working in the area. If conditions change, travel could be halted again.  The Swan Lake Fire had been backing towards the highway from the south, and the related smoke had made travel along a section of the road impassable. For road conditions throughout Alaska, visit 511.alaska.gov.

Firefighting Crews have arrived and are awaiting assignment from the Type 1 Great Basin incident management team.  The incident command post for the Great Basin team will be at Soldotna Preparatory (formerly Soldotna Middle School next to Redoubt Elementary).  

Lighter winds and cooler morning temperatures will allow multiple aviation resources to be utilized over the fire and increase the team’s ability to build an effective strategy to address the fire’s new growth.  Any shower activity in the next 24 to 48 hours will be very limited and mostly confined to the mountains.  Cooler temperatures are expected in the morning which will lead to increased smoke near the surface.  Smoke should lift by the afternoon.     

A Temporary Flight Restriction is in place for air space over the Swan Lake Fire (9/3271 NOTAM).  Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) also known as drones are not permitted in TFRs either.  Flying drones near wildfires could cause injury or death to firefighters as a result of an aircraft collision. Please help us keep firefighters safe and DO NOT fly drones near fires.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management has placed Cooper Landing and the Sterling neighborhoods EAST of Feuding Lane and EAST of Adkins Road in a “READY” status as of Sunday 08/18/19 due to increased fire activity within the north side of the Swan Lake Fire near Watson Lake. A READY notification is NOT a notice to leave. This notification 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.

Closures in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge have been extended to include the entire length of Skilak Lake Road and all adjacent recreational trails and day use areas.  The Russian River Ferry was closed and cleared early yesterday. Closures in Chugach National Forest include the Russian River Campground, K’Beq Day Use Area, Russian River Falls, and the Russian Lakes Trail from the Russian River Campground south including 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. Contact the Seward Ranger District at 907-288-3178 for more information.

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