Swan Lake fire

Emergency plans in place for Sterling highway travelers

Aug 26, 2019


Emergency officials have developed a transportation plan as firefighting efforts continue to close the Sterling highway for long stretches.

Alaska Division of Forestry

         The resurgent Swan Lake Fire continues to burn south of the Sterling Highway, within the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area. As of Sunday night, the fire measured 150,264 acres burned.

Temporary delays of the Sterling Highway remain possible. Closure information is available at 511.alaska.gov, kpoem.com, and on Facebook at KPB Alerts. Heavy firefighting equipment will be on the highway. Driving with more caution than normal while on the highway is advised.

        While students returned to classes on Tuesday at most Kenai Peninsula public schools, student athletes have been training and practicing for weeks in preparation for the upcoming season. Now, however, the Swan Lake Fire has claimed at least two early-season events, with more cancellations looming.

In an online announcement Wednesday Superintendent John O'Brien cancelled all outdoor athletics hosted by Kenai Peninsula Borough schools until further notice.

According to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management, the traffic on the Sterling Highway is flowing once again. The OEM advises travelers that fire activity can change rapidly and delays can still occur at any time so be prepared for a long delay.

If you must travel, they recommend a full tank of fuel for your vehicle, and to bring water, snacks and other essential items with you.

Alaska Division of Forestry

          The Sterling Highway was closed again this morning, but smoke and flames from the Swan Lake Fire could change that.

Traffic moved in both directions on the Sterling through the Upper Kenai River corridor yesterday where fire encroached over the weekend, but the DOT closed it again this morning because of dense smoke and flames near the roadway.

New management team to take over revived Swan Lake fire

Aug 20, 2019
Jade Gamble/Kenai Peninsula Borough


The Swan Lake fire on the Kenai Peninsula continues to delay traffic, with hours-long stops on the Sterling Highway near Cooper Landing. A new management team is set to be in place Wednesday.



With the multiple closures of the Sterling Highway since Sunday morning, many motorists found themselves stranded in Cooper Landing. After all, a 15-mile back-up stretched east from there by Monday morning.
    That captive audience actually made for a pretty good day for Wildman’s, Cooper Landing’s “everything” store.
    “We had a lot of people stop in. It was a good day yesterday,” said owner Cheryl James. “We had several people sleeping in our parking lot. There were people in line out there for 12 hours waiting to go through.”

Sterling Highway reopened at 10 a.m.

Aug 20, 2019

      After closing again Monday night due to increased wildfire activity and dense smoke along the Sterling Highway west of Cooper Landing, the authorities opened one lane at 10 o'clock this morning.

Pilot cars will escort 50 cars at a time in alternating directions of the 24-mile affected stretch of highway between mileposts 53 and 77. Cars are reportedly backed up for several miles on both sides of the closure.

Alaska Division of Forestry

         The Sterling Highway was closed again overnight and this morning after smoke and fire halted traffic yesterday evening.

Both lanes of traffic between Adkins Road at mile 77 and the intersection of Resurrection Pass Trail at the Sterling Highway at mile 53 remain halted.

Fire activity and the related dense smoke are expected to continue for some time, and the situation could last through well into today (Tuesday), according to authorities.

The Swan Lake Fire, which erupted with activity Saturday night, crossed the Sterling Highway and reached Skilak Lake by Sunday evening. The fire crossed the Upper Kenai River near the Kenai River Trail.
The Sterling Highway closed from mile 53 to 75 midday Sunday, but reopened to two-way traffic at noon today. Traffic heading south on the Sterling Highway Sunday was backed up a reported 15 miles yesterday.
Also closed is the Upper Kenai River between Skilak and Kenai lakes.

The Swan Lake Fire was almost out when strong winds whipped it back to life Saturday night. Hot spots flared up and the fire jumped the Sterling Highway at Milepost 60 around 2 a.m. Sunday. The wind-driven blaze is exhibiting fast-paced crown-burning activity, according to Mike Hill with the Swan Lake Incident Command.
    The fire has caused the closure of the Sterling Highway from miles 58 to 75, as well as Skilak Loop Road due to encroaching flames and dense smoke. The Kenai River from Kenai Lake to Skilak Lake is also closed.

Alaska Div. Forestry

As predicted, a cold front moving onto the Kenai Peninsula from the north, bringing with it strong winds and dry air, has literally fanned the embers of the Swan Lake Fire back into life. The weather caught the firefighters with less than 20 personnel staffed to the fire. At its peak, over 500 firefighters battled the blaze.
    Residents of Cooper Landing were issued a Level 1 (least serious) Evacuation Alert to be ready to leave, in case one is needed.

Air quality deteriorated overnight and by Saturday morning was reported to be at hazardous levels in Cooper Landing because of increased smoke from the Swan Lake Fire.
    Brentwood Reid, the incident commander on the fire, said it flared up in the Thurman, Mystery, and Dike creek drainages due to a cold weather front moving over the peninsula from the north, which is bringing with it winds as high as 30 mph.

Fire Weather Watch issued for Peninsula interior

Aug 16, 2019

The National Weather Service has issued a Fire Weather Watch for the interior of the Central Kenai Peninsula for parts of this weekend.
    Originally given for today (Friday), the watch, now for Saturday, is in response to expected hot, dry, and windy conditions. North winds with gusts 30 to 45 mph, relative humidity as low as 25 percent, and high temperatures in the 70s are expected.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

The 160-square-mile Swan Lake Fire that scorched the black spruce forest and muskeg northeast of Sterling this summer is still holding on. Only 16 firefighters are currently assigned to Swan Lake, most in reseeding and repair work, however helicopters are still in use to cool off hot spots that pop up.
This week several such flare-ups occurred on the hillside above the Sterling Highway near Upper Jean Lake and the Skyline Trail.

        Hikers, campers, picnickers and outdoors-people of all stripes can rejoice -- many popular and beloved hiking trails, campgrounds and picnic spots that were closed because of the threat of the Swan Lake Fire, have reopened.

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge opened up the campgrounds off the Sterling Highway, the Fuller Lakes Trail and the ever-popular Skyline Trail.

Meanwhile, the Chugach National Forest reopened the Resurrection Trail and the accompanying cabins along the way.

Only mop-up remains on Swan Lake Fire

Jul 31, 2019
Eastern Area Type 2 Team

There was still residual smoke in the air this (Wednesday) morning as crew members from the Eastern Area Type 2 Incident Management Team wrapped up their operations on the Swan Lake Fire.
    Incident Commander Brian Pisarek took a moment to leave a video farewell to the community as they prepare to leave.

Swan Lake Fire response continues to wind down

Jul 30, 2019
Alaska Division of Forestry

          Five days of rain has saturated the forest floor in and around the Swan Lake Fire and the official response will be turned over to a smaller incident management team sometime this week as the fire continues to wind down. The fire acreage is 102,229 and the personnel assigned to the blaze is down to 118 from a peak over 500.

Fire Behavior Analyst Mike Bowden says deeper layers of vegetation and duff remain dry, but considerably more drying would be needed for any more fire activity to occur.

Clean up continues as Swan Lake Fire smolders

Jul 26, 2019
Alaska Division of Forestry

      Activity on the Swan Lake Fire was limited to smoldering fuels and duff due to the cooler, wetter weather yesterday. Fire managers expect the smoldering to continue for several days with some smoke forecast for Cooper Landing and the Sterling Highway corridor again today.

First significant rain falls on Swan Lake Fire

Jul 25, 2019
Eastern Area Incident Mgt.

         Significant rain has fallen on the Swan Lake Fire, giving firefighters a chance to continue to mop up the fire lines. Meanwhile, another community meeting is scheduled for tonight.

Matt DeLaney, a heavy equipment supervisor, said in a video update that the clean-up operations are done for a number of reasons.

Alaska Division of Forestry

Rain was welcomed by firefighters working the Swan Lake Fire this morning, though in some areas, the blaze actually advanced on Tuesday, specifically in the Thurman and Mystery Creek drainages.

Miles of unneeded hose packed out of Swan Lake Fire

Jul 23, 2019
Alaska Division of Forestry

Firefighters continue to clean up controlled and burnt-out areas of the Swan Lake Fire near Sterling. About 40,000 feet, or more than seven miles, of hose has been laid on the south edge of the fire alone.

Swan Lake Fire crews in 'haul-out' mode

Jul 22, 2019
Alaska Division of Forestry

 Firefighters made strides over the weekend in moving toward completing fire suppression objectives on the Swan Lake Fire and it is now 72 percent complete. Much of the fire area is currently unstaffed, though aircraft will closely monitor the fire for hot spots, but minimal fire growth is expected.

Smoke from Swan Lake Fire expected to return

Jul 19, 2019
Eastern Area Incident Mgt.

          Troublesome smoke from the Swan Lake Fire near Sterling is expected to return to the Central Kenai Peninsula this weekend. Winds are expected to pick up, and Cooper Landing and Sterling could see smoke increases, more so in the evenings and mornings. Increased fire behavior and smoke production are anticipated with a drying trend in the weather.

The Swan Lake fire is approximately 100,812 acres and is 25 percent contained. 430 personnel are assigned to fight it.

Aircraft continue violating Swan Lake Fire airspace

Jul 18, 2019

          Private aircraft continue to hamper airborne firefighting efforts on the Swan Lake Fire, burning northwest of Cooper Landing.

Multiple aircraft are violating the Swan Lake Fire Temporary Flight Restriction area every day, according to the Eastern Area Incident Management Team, and it's creating the potential for a serious accident.

New team takes over 101k-acre Swan Lake Fire

Jul 16, 2019
Alaska Division of Forestry

         A new fire team took over management of the six-week-old Swan Lake Fire north of Sterling and Cooper Landing on Monday. The Eastern Area Incident Management Team Type 2 assumed command at 8 o'clock Monday morning.

In an announcement, the fire managers note that 50 percent of all fire-related objectives have been completed, and that 440 personnel were assigned to the Swan Lake response.

Weekend rain slows Swan Lake Fire growth

Jul 15, 2019
Alaska Division of Forestry

         The Swan Lake Fire burning north of Sterling and Cooper Landing saw minimal growth over the weekend, and fire managers are estimating only minimal growth for the next two days. The fire is reported at a little over 100,000 acres, with 441 personnel fighting it. It is currently 25 percent contained.

There is a chance that the fire area will receive some light precipitation today, with scattered showers continuing over the mountains on Tuesday. A high pressure system will possibly set up over the Peninsula in the later part of the week.

Econ 919: The Swan Lake Fire by the numbers

Jul 11, 2019

This week, we look at the numbers surrounding the Swan Lake Fire that’s been burning northeast of Sterling for over six weeks now.

Firefighters thankful for weather break

Jul 11, 2019
Alaska Division of Forestry

Fire managers held another community meeting in Cooper Landing last (Wed.) night. Residents were updated on the Swan Lake Fire's progress since the last meeting on Friday. Cool, moist marine air has dampened the 100,000 acre blaze and reduced its intensity, if not the smoke.
Residents were told how the terrain and weather is resulting in a lot of "low intensity" burning in tundra, bogs and muskeg.

AK Fire Info

The Swan Lake Fire, now over 95,000 acres, continues burning northeast of Sterling, with the fire danger prompting the Chugach National Forest to issue a temporary fire prohibition order for the Kenai Peninsula area of the forest.

The east flank of the Swan Lake Fire continues to move upslope and into higher elevations along the mountain ridge line. Fire managers say the change in vegetation is expected to reduce the ability for fire to move above ground resulting in slower fire spread and lower intensity burning.