NOTE:

This blog is maintained as an effort to coordinate and collocate responding agencies' information for easier public access during events on the Kenai Peninsula. The information here is written and provided by the contributing agencies. NOTE: The blog will be updated as the need arises and may be dormant at times..

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

06/18/2019 Swan Lake Fire Update: Alaska Incident Management Team Relieves Initial Attack Resources

Fire growth was moderated by the cloud cover yesterday. Limited expansion occurred in the areas mostly to the north and northwest where the black spruce stands remain receptive to fire growth. There was a smooth transition this morning to the Type 2 Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team under the leadership of Incident Commander Tom Kurth. The Type 2 team relieves initial attack forces who have been in place for the past eight days.  Fire managers are also able to increase the staffing in each geographic area of the fire, expand aerial firefighting operations, and plan for the assessment and continued long term protection of the values at risk beyond the immediate fire area.

An additional hand crew was inserted into the southern control line closest to the Sterling Highway to provide further protection for all of the assets and infrastructure in the highway corridor. Crews used tactical firing operations to secure and reinforce the primary control lines to the southwest with the support of helicopters and small air tankers known as Fire Bosses. The Pioneer Peak Interagency Hotshot crew initiated the firing operation on the west while the University of Alaska Nanooks fire crew followed behind ensuring that any spot fires were immediately addressed. The Gannett Glacier Type 2 Initial Attack hand crew completed a successful burnout and point protection operation around the Thermoelectric Generator (TEG), which sits aboveground east of the fire.
Today, hand crews will continue to reinforce and defend the primary line on the west of the fire to prevent spread towards the community of Sterling. As conditions allow, crews will continue firing operations along the west and southern control lines in order to gain depth and prevent fire spread towards the infrastructure along the Sterling Highway corridor. While there is no immediate threat to the community of Sterling from the Swan Lake Fire, structure protection specialists will begin validating the readiness of private homes and businesses in the area. Homeowners are encouraged to remove brush and follow other firewise best practices which may be found atfirewise.org.
This natural, lightning-caused fire can restart the boreal forest’s succession and increase moose and wildlife habitat on a part of the landscape that has not seen fire since 1947. This fire helps reduce the risk of future fires threatening local communities when weather is less favorable by removing fuel now. Burn scars affect new fires for years, slowing their progress and giving firefighters more time to respond. For more information on Alaska’s forest succession and wildland fire on National Wildlife Refuges visit: https://tinyurl.com/y4hpul8x.
WEATHER: Winds are predicted to remain relatively calm today with northeast winds 3-5 mph shifting to southwest 4-7 mph in the afternoon. Light rain showers in the vicinity are possible, resulting in the possibility of continued cloud cover and shading for the fire area.
SAFETY: Motorists are urged to yield to fire apparatus entering the Sterling Highway and to adhere to traffic signage staged near miles 82 and 92. Observing the fire from a safe location should be practiced instead of stopping along the highway. For current road conditions visit http://511.alaska.gov. Supporting agencies are posting fire and smoke-related information, official updates and helpful links at www.kpboem.com. The Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) has expanded in size today to support suppression efforts and firefighter safety. Pilots and drone operators can confirm the current TFR restrictions at tfr.faa.gov. Be advised that drone operation is not permitted on the refuge.
OBJECTIVE: The fire is burning in a limited protection area within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.  Fire managers with the Alaska Division of Forestry are working collaboratively with refuge personnel to manage the fire. The focus of all suppression efforts is to protect all of the values at risk including the community of Sterling and the Sterling Highway corridor while reducing future wildland fire hazards and enhancing wildlife habitat.
FIRE INFORMATION: Call Division of Forestry Public Information office at 208-391-3488, visit kpboem.com or inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6387/



Monday, June 17, 2019

06/17/19 Swan Lake Fire Update: Reconnaissance Flight Confirms Work on Swan Lake Fire


As expected, the cloudy day yesterday allowed firefighters on the 12,782 acre Swan Lake Fire to make good progress. The southwestern firelines nearest the community of Sterling were further strengthened and widened as crews strategically tied work with the existing pipeline right-of-way clearing.   The local Yukon Fire crew has joined the three other crews in this critical area of the fire.  Fire managers flew a reconnaissance flight late yesterday to confirm the benefit of work that has been done and to evaluate actions needed for upcoming operational periods. On the ground, firefighters reported slow-moving fire behavior, indicating that it is burning deep within the duff layer. The duff layer is a thick layer of moss, twigs, leaves and spruce needles that blankets the forest floor; the duff thickness may vary 4-6 inches. This is an important firefighter observation, indicating the level of work that must be done to put the fire out on the southwest perimeter.

Crews will work together today on their continued mission of protecting the community of Sterling by mopping up, securing and monitoring fireline on the southwestern edge of the fire. Fire operations, flying over the public use cabin north of the fire made the decision that this building does not require point protection at this time.  This cabin protection and that of the TEG site can be accomplished quickly thanks to past crew work, proactive preparations and the distance from the active fireline.

Today, management of this fire will transition to an incoming Type 2 Alaska incident management team. This move to a Type 2 team increases the capacity of each division of staffing.  More personnel assigned to this fire provides for a comprehensive strategic plan going forward and adds capacity in anticipation of the shift in weather back to drier days. Fire personnel will be transitioning the Incident Command from the Division of Forestry Kenai-Kodiak Unit in Soldotna to Sterling Elementary School this morning. Expect to see more fire personnel on the Sterling Highway while they complete this move and more presence in Sterling in future.

WEATHER: Afternoon wind gusts will test the firelines today. Isolated showers will not result in wetting rain.

SAFETY: Motorists are urged to yield to fire apparatus entering the Sterling Highway and to adhere to traffic signage staged near miles 82 and 92. Observing the fire from a safe location should be practiced instead of stopping along the highway. For current road conditions visit http://511.alaska.gov. Supporting agencies are posting fire and smoke-related information, official updates and helpful links on the virtual joint information center (VJIC) at www.kpboem.com. The Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is still in effect to support suppression efforts and firefighter safety. Pilots and drone operators can confirm the current TFR restrictions at https://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_9_4869.html. Be advised drone operation is not permitted on the Refuge.

OBJECTIVE: The fire is burning in a limited protection area within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.  Fire managers with the Alaska Division of Forestry are working collaboratively with refuge personnel to manage the fire. They aim to reduce future wildland fire hazards and enhance wildlife habitat by allowing for fire's natural role: creating a diversity of vegetation types and tree age classes.

FIRE INFORMATION: Call Division of Forestry Public Information office at 907-260-4262, visit kpboem.com or inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6387/
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