Swan Lake Fire – 08.30.10 – Daily Fire Update

A community meeting will be held tonight at the Sterling Community Center, August 30, 2019 at 6:00 pm.

Holiday Travel Advisory: Expect delays on the Sterling Highway between Sterling and the junction with the Seward Highway to continue through the weekend. Swan Lake Fire suppression activities and dense smoke have restricted travel on this route recently. There are checkpoints at mile 40, mile 53 and mile 71. Westbound vehicles coming from the east (Anchorage or Seward), will be stopped at mile 40 to wait for a pilot car. Anticipate delays of 40 minutes up to several hours. Westbound traffic will encounter another checkpoint at mile 53 which may not be passed without a pilot car. For those already in Cooper Landing and traveling west toward Soldotna, proceed to the mile 53 checkpoint and wait until the next pilot car comes by leading vehicles west and join the line.  Motorists eastbound from Soldotna will stop at the mile 70 checkpoint and wait for a pilot car to lead them through to the east side of the restricted area.  Wait times will be similar to those described above.  It is recommended that vehicles have ample fuel and carry food and water for occupants.  Do not stop along the highway within the fire area. 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: Fire behavior over the entire area was generally light, partially due to thick smoke enveloping the east side of the fire in the early afternoon.  The Trout Lake-Resurrection Trail area remains  a primary focus on the east flank.  Crews began working this difficult-to-access area; however, safety and logistical support issues limited progress.  Fire managers are reevaluating methods to address those issues and construct containment lines around one of the last areas not completed.  South of the Sterling Highway, crews concentrated on extinguishing remaining heat sources adjacent to the fire perimeter, commonly referred to as mop up. This establishes a wider barrier to stop fire spread.  Around Cooper Landing, the structure protection group in conjunction with local fire department personnel made good progress in reducing fuels and installing outdoor sprinklers around buildings.

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

Sterling: Today’s increase in completion is primarily due to securing the line from the Sterling Highway south toward Skilak Lake on the southwest side of the fire. This work entails extinguishing any remaining burning or smoldering fuels adjacent to the containment lines. Fire fighters on the remainder of the southwestern quadrant are making good progress on similar work.

The Sterling neighborhoods east of Feuding Lane and east of Adkins Road remain in a READY status. A READY notification means residents should be preparing for a potential evacuation should the threat level increase.

Weather: The leading edge ofa low pressure system is expected to arrive over the area later today bringing southeasterly winds, cooler temperatures and possible light precipitation in the evening.  This pattern is anticipated to strengthen and intensify with heavier rain and gusty winds peaking on Sunday.  It is also expected to better disperse smoke and provide clearer air around the fire.

Closures: The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and the Chugach National Forest have issued coordinated, comprehensive area closures for public lands surrounding and including the Swan Lake Fire.  These orders will incorporate the previous individual closures as well as new restrictions on public entry and use.  The primary purpose for the closures is to protect the public from significant safety issues such as abundant dead trees ready to fall without warning, ash pits (where fire continues to burn or smolder under the ground surface but is not readily evident) and dislodged materials that can roll downhill, as some examples.  The orders and accompanying maps are available at local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Chugach National Forest offices and online at kpboem.com,

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.

A printable version of the update may be found by clicking here.

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