Swan Lake Fire – 8/28/19 Daily Update

The efficient flow of traffic along the Sterling Highway corridor is very important to residents and visitors of the Kenai Peninsula. Long delays along the highway remain likely. Travel on the highway is not advised, and the status of the highway can change quickly. If you choose to travel on the highway, be prepared for delays with a full gas tank and food and water. Do not stop along the highway within the fire perimeter. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management has the latest information at kpboem.com, on Facebook at KPB Alerts and at their call center at 907-262-INFO (4636).  

Cooper Landing: In Cooper Landing, a “swing shift” of firefighters has been added to provide additional coverage to the current day and nighttime operations. The swing shift will provide additional support between 10:00 am and midnight. All firefighters in Cooper Landing are working to bolster defensible space around structures, to set up water sprinklers, and to improve contingency lines along the power line corridor.

Helicopters are being used to drop water on the 175 acre area of the fire that has crossed Resurrection Trail to limit growth towards Cooper Landing. It is too smoky to utilize fixed wing water scoopers in this area. The area is being assessed to determine how additional firefighting resources can be deployed safely. Protection of cabins along the trail is being provided. Firefighters are using control lines on the Fuller Lake Trail to limit fire movement towards the east

An additional crew will be added to the group being shuttled across the Kenai River today to work on constructing fire line towards Surprise Creek. These firefighters are working to remove any heat on the ground within 30-50’ of the fireline.

Cooper Landing remains in a SET status due to fire activity. All residents should be SET to evacuate if the situation warrants. If you feel uncomfortable or need additional time, consider leaving before an evacuation notice.

Sterling: A smoke column was visible on Tuesday as pockets of unburned fuel south of the highway burned. This burning of fuels within the fire perimeter will continue. Water scoopers were used to keep the fire in check, providing protection to the Hidden Lake Campground. Protection of structures is being provided with pump and sprinkler systems at Kelly Lake, Engineer Lake, Upper Ohmer cabins, Skilak Guard Station and Hidden Lake Pavilion.

Closer to Sterling, crews continue their work on the southwestern corner of the fire, which had been holding and is not posing a current threat. 

The Sterling neighborhoods east of Feuding Lane and east of Adkins Road remain in a READY status. 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 area.

Weather: This morning, light downslope winds from the east will shift towards the west in the afternoon.  The light winds will not bring relief from the smoke and the communities on the Kenai Peninsula will continue to be impacted. There is little change to temperature or humidity, it remains hot and dry. Active fire behavior remains likely until there is a significant change in the weather pattern. A low pressure weather pattern is setting up towards the weekend, which will likely bring cooler temperatures and precipitation as early as Friday night. Precipitation on and off is possible through the middle of next week.

Closures: 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, including the following public use cabins: West Swan Lake, Swan Lake, Trout, Romig, and Juneau. Federal and state agencies are finalizing and emergency area closure for the fire area.

Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR): A TFR is in place for air space over the Swan Lake Fire (9/7677 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.

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