Skip to main content

Swan Lake Fire

Unit Information

Kenai-Kodiak Area
42499 Sterling Highway
Soldotna, AK 99669

Incident Contacts

Fire Information
Phone: 208-391-3488
Hours: Mon-Sun 8 am to 9 pm

KPB Call Center
Phone: 907-262-4636
Hours: Mon- Fri 8 am to 5 pm

Highlighted Activity

09/23/2019 Swan Lake Fire Fact Sheet - September 23, 2019
Location: 5 miles northeast of Sterling, AK Incident Command: Type 2 Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 4, Rick Connell, I.C. Size: 167,164 acres Containment: 81% Personnel: 173 Transfer of.
News - 09/23/2019

Lightning ignited the fire on June 5, 2019 in a remote area of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Wilderness. The area was classified as a Limited Protection Zone in accordance with The Interagency Fire Management Plans for Alaska. That classification indicates low values at risk and difficult or costly suppression efforts. Consequently, it was initially put in a monitor only status. Over the next week the fire grew from an estimated 4 to 5 acres to over 12,700 acres. Active suppression efforts were implemented and the first of several incident management teams was assigned. Important infrastructure was protected, but the spread continued, reaching 15,600 acres on June 19. Heavy smoke became an issue triggering a temporary closure on the Sterling Highway and contributing to an air quality advisory for southcentral Alaska.

During the last week of June, the perimeter grew from 32,300 acres to over62,000 acres under unseasonably hot, dry conditions. In early July, spread to the south and west was largely arrested; however, it began moving east and northeast. Dense smoke was sent into Cooper Landing and Seward. The fire reached 79,000 acres. In response, the Chugach National Forest and Kenai National Wildlife Refuge issued closures for trails affected by the fire. Structures in Cooper Landing were assessed for fire readiness. Most of the fire was patrolled by aircraft. Interior pockets of fuel continued to burn, but most of the perimeter stayed quiet.

On July 15, the fire was over 100,000 acres and staffed by 440 personnel. A warming and drying trend kindled scattered hot spots near control lines, but all lines held. A series of rain events with amounts ranging from one quarter inch on July19 up to two inches on July 28, greatly diminished fire activity, arrested growth and prompted staffing reductions.

The work focus shifted to repairing suppression damage. The return of warm, dry conditions increased activity within the interior of the burn. Latent embers lingering deep in the decaying vegetation under the forest floor flared up and began to consume previously unburned fuels—especially on the eastern perimeter. Helicopter water drops were used to reduce further spread. Meanwhile, mechanical suppression repair was completed and fire personnel began reseeding operations to prevent erosion and prevent invasive weed introduction.

An August 17 wind event, with velocities exceeding 35 mph, re-ignited an apparently cool area of the fire and spread it south of the Sterling Highway into the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area. Over the next week the fire grew an additional 50-thousand acres and created fire, smoke and travel impacts to adjacent communities.

As of August 31, 2019, the fire was 162,179 acres with 725 personnel assigned.

Basic Information

Current as of
Incident TypeWildfire
Date of OriginWednesday June 05th, 2019 approx. 06:52 PM
LocationApprox. 5 miles northeast of Sterling, AK
Incident CommanderRick Connell
Incident DescriptionWildfire
Coordinates60.631 latitude, -150.438 longitude

Current Situation

Total Personnel147
Size167,164 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained81%
Estimated Containment DateTuesday October 01st, 2019 approx. 12:00 AM
Fuels Involved

Timber (Grass and Understory)

Short Grass (1 foot)

Brush (2 feet)


Fuel loading is variable black spruce, birch, grass and brush.

Significant Events





Planned Actions

Firefighters are continuing suppression repair operations and the monitoring of fire lines in the Kenai Wilderness, along road and trail corridors and around communities of Sterling and Copper Landing. Infrared capable UAS drones are being used to identify heat sources within the fire perimeter to assist with mop-up operations.

Projected Incident Activity

12 hours: Limited drying may occur at upper levels of litter and duff, but should not rebound sufficiently to support surface fire spread. Deep duff will continue to smolder.

24 hours: Deep duff pockets and heavy fuels will continue to smolder despite precipitation received on the fire.

Current Weather

Weather Concerns

Tuesday will be dry in the morning followed by rain in the afternoon as a system approaches from the west. A stronger system will bring wetting rain and colder air to the fire by Wednesday afternoon.