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Swan Lake Fire

Unit Information

Kenai-Kodiak Area
42499 Sterling Highway
Soldotna, AK 99669

Incident Contacts

Fire Information
Email: 2019.Swanlake@firenet.gov
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

09/15/2019 Swan Lake Fire Community Meeting on 9/16/19 at 6:00 pm
Community Meeting: A Community Meeting is scheduled for 6:00pm on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019 at the Cooper Landing School, 19030 Bean Creek Road, Cooper Landing. Fire operations personnel and local...
Announcement - 09/15/2019
Swan Lake Fire Information Map - Sept. 15, 2019Image options: [ Full Size ]

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
CauseLightning
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 Personnel286
Size165,085 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained48%
Estimated Containment DateTuesday October 01st, 2019 approx. 12:00 AM
Fuels Involved

Timber (Grass and Understory)

Short Grass (1 foot)

Brush (2 feet)

Narrative:

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

Significant Events

Minimal

Creeping

Smoldering

Isolated torching

Outlook

Planned Actions

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

Projected Incident Activity

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

24 hours: Continued smoldering fire behavior in deep duff layers. Upper levels of duff will have limited combustion due to precipitation received.

48 hours: Limited drying will occur at upper levels of litter and duff but won't rebound sufficiently to support surface fire spread. There could be occasional torching near pockets of heat and receptive canopy fuels, especially in dense canopies that haven't received significant moisture. Deep duff will continue to burn as precipitation received is not heavy enough to penetrate the deeper layers.

72 hours: Limited drying will occur at upper levels of litter and duff but won't rebound sufficiently to support surface fire. There could be occasional torching near pockets of heat and receptive canopy fuels, especially in dense canopies that haven't received significant moisture. Deep duff will continue to burn as precipitation received is not heavy enough to penetrate the deeper layers.

Anticipated after 72 hours: Limited drying will occur at upper levels of litter and duff but won't rebound sufficiently to support surface fire spread. There could be occasional torching near pockets of heat and receptive canopy fuels, especially in dense canopies that haven't received significant moisture. Deep duff will continue to burn as precipitation received is not heavy enough to penetrate the deeper layers.

Current Weather

Weather Concerns

Cooler, rainy weather with max temperatures of 52, minimum humidity of 81% and winds northeast 4 mph with gusts of 12 mph observed at the Broadview RAWS.

A low pressure system will be moving away from the area and high pressure aloft will start building in. There will be mostly cloudy skies and a chance of showers in the morning but will be clearing to partly sunny conditions in the afternoon.