Swan Lake Fire – August 23 Update

The firefighting resources of the Swan Lake Fire were bolstered on Thursday with the addition of five hand crews. These crews worked the southwestern flank of the fire, south of the Sterling Highway. Later in the day, the strength of the line was tested by winds from the southeast, and the line held. On the southeastern corner of the fire, three water scooper aircraft helped hold the active fire line west towards Cooper Landing. Additionally, four boats were able to transport two crews across the river to work in the Surprise Creek area. Interior pockets of unburned fuel produced active fire on the southeastern and northeastern corners of the fire.

The goal for today will be to minimize overall fire spread south of the Sterling Highway, southeast towards Cooper Landing, and southwest towards Sterling. A total of six boats will be used to shuttle crews across the Kenai River to work in the Surprise Creek area, and crews will continue their work northeast along the Resurrection Trail. The Kenai and Russian rivers will rise over the next four days due to a jokulhaups (glacial outburst flood). Fire managers will monitor the increase in river flows and plan firefighting activities accordingly. Safety of the public and firefighters remains the number one priority for the team.

Weather: The easterly winds that were experienced on the fire Thursday will shift out of the northwest by Friday afternoon. As a result, there may be some improvements with smoke and visibility for the day towards Sterling, while Cooper Landing will likely experience heavier smoke today. Winds will generally remain light and out of the west through the weekend. There may be a slight increase in relative humidity, but temperatures are expected to remain above seasonal averages. The chance for a stray shower remain low through the weekend with little to no wetting rains expected.

Evacuations and Closures: 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 on Sunday (08/18/19) due to increased fire activity of the Swan Lake Fire. A READY notification is NOT a notice to leave. This notification means that you must be ready for potential evacuation if 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 http://www.kpboem.com, or call the Borough Call Center at 907-262-INFO (4636) for updates.

Closures in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge include the entire length of Skilak Lake Road and all adjacent recreational trails and day use areas. The Russian River Ferry is closed. The Upper Kenai River between the Cooper Landing State Boat Launch and where the river enters Skilak Lake is closed to all public use. Closures on the 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.

Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR): A TFR is in place for air space over the Swan Lake Fire (9/5040 NOTAM). The TFR includes unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or drones, as well. Flying drones near wildfires could cause injury or death to firefighters as a result of a mid-air collision with tactical firefighting aircraft.

Today at 0700, the Great Basin National Incident Management Team 1 also assumed command of the Caribou Lake Fire, 25 miles northeast of Homer. For more information on this fire, visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6539/.



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