Swan Lake Fire yesterday exhibited extreme fire behavior due to continued high winds that pushed it south and east into the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area in Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Activity on the southeast corner of the fire spread south of the Sterling Highway from where it had crossed the highway near mile 70 and burned south to Skilak Lake Road. Other fingers of the fire near Kenai River Trail jumped the Kenai River into the Surprise Creek drainage. The fire is burning very actively in this area east of the Kenai River. To the west, near mile 71 of the Sterling Highway, close to Watson Lake campground, the fire jumped the highway and ran south to Skilak Lake at Lower Skilak Campground.
Lighter winds today have allowed for aviation resources to be utilized again over the fire, and will increase the team’s ability to build an effective strategy to address the fire’s new growth early today. A Type 1 incident management team, the Great Basin Team, will be arriving today with approximately 100 personnel and transitioning operation of the fire from the Type 3 team this evening.
The Sterling Highway will reopen at 12:00 pm today. Traffic will be allowed to pass in both directions; however due to the ongoing fire activity, no stopping along the highway will be allowed. Conditions along the highway may continue to be smoky. Motorist are urged to drive slowly and with their lights on. Alaska State Troopers will be patrolling and monitoring traffic. If conditions change, travel could be reduced to escorted, one-way travel or halted again. Check 511.alaska.gov for updated road conditions across the state.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management has placed Cooper Landing and the Sterling neighborhoods EAST of Feuding Lane and EAST of Adkins Road in a “READY” status as of Sunday 08/18/19 due to increased fire activity within the north side of the Swan Lake Fire near Watson Lake. A READY evacuation alert is NOT a notice to leave. This alert means that you must be ready for potential evacuation. There is a fire in your local area. Assist family members with special needs, arrange to move mobile property (boats, trailers, ATV), and prepare pets or livestock. Monitor social media, news and radio for information. Check for further information on www.kpboem.com or call the Borough Call Center at 907-262-INFO (4636) for updates.
Closures in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge have been extended to include the entire length of Skilak Lake Road and all adjacent recreational trails and day use areas. The Russian River Ferry was closed and cleared early yesterday. Closures in Chugach National Forest include the Russian River Campground, K’Beq Day Use Area, Barber Cabin, Russian River Falls, and the Russian Lakes Trail from the Russian River Campground south to Barber Cabin. Closures remain in place on Resurrection Pass Trail from the junction of Devil’s Pass south to the Sterling Highway. This closure includes the following public use cabins: West Swan Lake, Swan Lake, Trout, Romig, and Juneau. Contact the Seward Ranger District at 907-288-3178 for more information.
Air Quality Report Air quality monitors have been set up near the fire area and can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/y3rsbkr5. The monitor in Sterling can be found at https://tinyurl.com/y5ens5fv.