Here’s a 7 p.m. photo of the Loon Lake Fire following a ramped-up aerial assault on the 150-acre wildfire burning in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge that included water drops from two water-scooping aircraft from the BLM Alaska Fire Service and water and retardant drops from an air tanker. The water drops (red lines in photo) significantly reduced fire behavior. The retardant drops were meant to pen the fire in and give firefighters on the ground a chance to begin building containment lines. The 17-person Gannett Glacier Type 2 Initial Attack Crew has been flown into the fire and will be joined on the fireline by the Midnight Sun and Pioneer Peak hotshot crews tomorrow.
The Loon Lake Fire (#180) burning in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge became more active this afternoon, The Division of Forestry is responding with water and retardant drops from multiple aircraft and more personnel have been ordered to fight it.
Fire managers report the lightning-ignited fire has grown from about 6 acres this morning to an estimated 150 acres as of 5 p.m. A significant smoke column from the fire is visible from the Sterling Highway and other areas of the Kenai Peninsula. The Division of Forestry and Alaska State Troopers have received multiple calls from concerned residents.
The fire, reported at around 8 p.m. Saturday, is burning in dense black spruce only about 1 mile from where the Swan Lake Fire was started by lightning on June 5, 2019.
The Loon Lake Fire is burning in a remote area of the refuge about 10 ½ miles northeast of Sterling and does not pose a threat to the community, highway or any other values. It is burning next to Loon Lake and about one-half mile from Swan Lake.
An air tanker based in Palmer has made multiple water drops on the fire and two water-scooping aircraft based at the BLM Alaska Fire Service continue to bomb the fire with water drops. A helicopter from the Kenai/Kodiak Area Forestry station has also been making water drops on the fire and another helicopter has been hired for additional bucket work.
Refuge managers have given the Division of Forestry permission to drop retardant around the fire to slow its progress. Fire managers are thee retardant drops around the active portion of the fire to pen it in and give firefighters on the ground a chance to attack and begin constructing containment lines.
The 17-person Gannett Glacier Type 2 Initial Attack Crew is being helicoptered into the fire and should be on the fireline by 7 p.m. Two more hotshot crews – the Pioneer Peak Hotshots and Midnight Sun Hotshots – have been ordered and will arrive at the fire tomorrow.
The Loon Lake Fire was reported at approximately 8 p.m. Saturday following several lightning strikes in the area. The Loon Lake Fire was initially reported at 2 acres but grew to nearly 6 acres as of this morning.