Many recreation areas still a danger in wake of Swan Lake Fire

Sep 23, 2019

        Rain over the weekend has helped the crews on the Swan Lake Fire continue to mop up work on the perimeter of the blaze.

In the most recent report from Rick Connell, the incident commander for the Type 2 Northern Rockies Team 4, says fire suppression repair work is being done on all but the north side of the burned area. That includes brush chipping and cutting fire weakened trees along roadways. In areas where the fire reached roads firefighters will continue to monitor for fire weakened trees falling and cut them as needed. 

The danger of fire-damaged trees has been the major reason recreation areas remain closed in the affected areas of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and the Chugach National Forest. Connell says fire-weakened trees can fall unexpectedly because the duff layer holding them up has burned away.

Another danger are ash pits, where tree roots burn, leaving a hot, ash-filled pit in its place. Fire managers report several firefighters have been injured from stepping them. As a result, all Refuge and Forest lands that have burned remain closed to the public. In addition, all recreation facilities along the Skilak Road, including campgrounds, trails, and day use areas remain closed, and firefighters urge folks to keep their pets and children close by if in the burn area.

Erosion control work will be done on dozer lines between Skilak Loop and the Kenai River east of Hidden Lake. The planned removal of pumps, hose and other equipment has been largely completed, according to Connell, th ough some pumps and hose will remain in key locations and have been winteriezed to protect from freezing.

Temporary flight restrictions remain in place over part of the Swan Lake Fire, as well.

The 167,164-acre fire is 68 percent contained, and there are currently 221 personnel fighting it.