Fire crews getting handle on Peninsula burns

Jun 7, 2019

 

Smoke rises from the Swan Lake fire, burning east of Sterling near milepost 70 of the Sterling Highway. A second lightning-caused fire, Bear Lake, is also burning in the area.
Credit Patrick Quiner/Alaska Division of Forestry

Fire crews are getting a handle on a number of wildland fires across the Kenai Peninsula. Lightning strikes are the cause for all but one of the seven fires currently burning.

The largest one is the Tustumena Lake fire, burning in the Caribou Hills. Division of Forestry spokesperson Andy Alexandrou says they expect to have that fire fully contained by the end of the day Friday.

“There’s 50 people on it. It was a critical fire, on state land. The Pioneer Peak and Yukon crews were on that fire. There was no delivery of fire retardant on that blaze Thursday. Wednesday, there were four loads delivered there.”

The Swan Lake fire, burning east of Sterling caused some concern with a lot of smoke Wednesday evening. Another lightning-caused fire started up in that same area Thursday.

“The Bear Lake fire was spotted by a recon flight from a helicopter when they were looking at the Swan Lake fire. Bear Lake fire is on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service property. It’s a tenth of an acre. It’s in (a) limited (management area). It’s 100 percent active and 20 by 20 (feet) in size and creeping and smoldering.

That fire could threaten some of the same natural gas infrastructure that had to be protected during the Card Street fire in 2015.

“There’s a possibility of that fire moving to the northeast a little bit. It was 60 percent active Thursday night when the fire was flown. It is in limited and the fire remains in monitor status. Fish and Wildlife Service is visiting with the State of Alaska and perhaps coming up with a strategic plan if that fire continues to grow.”

The fires burning east of Sterling are all in limited management zones meaning that unless they do pose a threat to life or property, they will be allowed to burn. Alexandrou says the forecast heading into the weekend looks favorable for being able to contain the fires.