Wind pushes Swan Lake Fire towards highway

Jun 24, 2019

Fire become more active due to hot and dry conditions driven by wind.
Credit Casey Lasota/Alaska Incident Management Team

        A shift in the wind drove the Swan Lake Fire toward the Sterling Highway Sunday night, forcing fire managers to call for traffic restrictions. By Sunday evening, it was apparent the fire would not reach the highway and traffic was allowed to continue.

Weather conspired with the smoke Friday morning to close the highway as a marine inversion layer came through, trapping the smoke near the ground, combining with fog. Yes, it was smog that stopped traffic.

The Sunday flare-up forced the relocation of firefighters to a safe area as the heavy smoke obscured the fire's flame front.

Fire managers are warning that the warm and dry conditions and persistent winds are expected to continue for the next several days. The forecast is calling for highs in the 70s all week.

They are recommending that motorists plan their trips accordingly. They further advise that the narrow and gravel-topped Skilak Lake Road should not be considered an option for RVs, fifth-wheels and semi tractor-trailers.

And though electric service may not be impacted, customers of Homer Electric Association may see a larger bill next month as the co-op de-energized the transmission line that connects the hydroelectric facility at Bradley Lake to the power grid at the request of fire managers to protect firefighters. Bradley Lake is the main renewable power source for the Central Peninsula, producing electricity at a lower cost than non-renewable sources.