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Containment continues at Loon Lake Fire

Courtesy of Kale Casey

Officials say the Loon Lake Fire outside Sterling is under control and that they have no concerns about it escaping at this time.

Fire crews are finishing up both a hose line to pump in water around the fire and a fireline on its perimeter, said public information officer Kale Casey.

"So that that dense, dense dense black spruce can get the mopping up that it needs and can get to 100 percent suppression," Casey said. "Which is the goal of this one."

The fire started from a lightning strike and was reported Saturday. It’s burning near where the 2019 Swan Lake Fire burned, about 10 miles from Sterling, and isn’t threatening any lives or property.

But because of the fire’s location and the dry weather in the forecast, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, which manages the land underneath the fire, ordered Forestry to squash it 100 percent. That included using fire retardant, something Forestry doesn't usually do in that area.

It’s a different strategy from the one Forestry took in 2019. That fire burned for nearly a week before crews attacked it, says Forestry spokesperson Tim Mowry.

Casey says the Loon Lake Fire is contained to just over 100 acres now, or 0.15 square miles.

As is the case with most wildfires, the highest chance for activity is later in the day when there’s more sun and heat. But Casey says because of the containment measures in place, crews are ready to tackle what comes. He also says there’s a Blackhawk helicopter sitting at the Kenai Airport ready to douse the area with water.

"We have the right resources, did the right amount of work," he said. "We were able to use Fire Bosses this year, which is that small little airplane that’s able to do these super quick low returns this weekend. One plane dropped like 24,000 gallons on it. Which is a lot of water, under any circumstance."

There are currently 80 personnel on the fire. Casey says some of those staff will leave soon to attack higher priority fires elsewhere, like the ongoing Haystack Fire near Fairbanks.

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