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/
Double click to enlarge the map.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

06/16/19 Swan Lake Fire Update: Conducting Assessments North of the Fire


Firefighters benefitted from cooler, wetter weather yesterday where the Swan Lake Fire is burning in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Crews made progress improving the fireline along the southwest edge of the fire near the community of Sterling. Work included enhancing protections around energy infrastructure. Though most of the pipeline, which moves natural gas from the Kenai Peninsula to Anchorage, is buried underground, a Thermoelectric Generator (TEG) sits aboveground east of the fire. Yesterday’s protections for the TEG site included clearing out vegetation and prepping water pumps and a sprinkler system. Crews also completed a new helispot yesterday near the fire to support movement of personnel and supplies,  improving efficiency.

The northeast flank of the fire benefitted from the cool day as well. This natural, lightning-caused fire can restart the boreal forest’s succession 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.

Anticipating a change in the weather to warmer and drier, firefighters today will continue building and fortifying line along the south finger of the fire, south of the pipeline corridor.  Helicopters will be supporting crews this morning with bucket drops of water as needed. Assessments will be made today on infrastructure north of the fire including a public-use cabin, to determine what protections would be needed if fire activity intensifies over the next week.

WEATHER: Meteorologists expect cloudy, wet weather to continue for the next 24 hours. Precipitation will be limited to passing rain showers with only a 10% chance of wetting rain over the fire area today.  Fires burning in deep duff require large amounts of rain to change their activity, something that hasn’t been seen this weekend.

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 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. 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/

Double click to enlarge the map.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

06/15/19 Air Quality Advisory for Southcentral Alaska

ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
Division of Air Quality
AIR QUALITY ADVISORY
Southcentral Alaska #2019-F3 

LOCATION(S) IMPACTED:  Southcentral is experiencing degraded air quality due to wildfire smoke from the Swan Lake fire located on the Kenai Peninsula.

TIME/DATE OF UPDATE: Saturday June 15, 2019 10:00 AM.

VALID TIME: Saturday June 15, 2019 10:00 AM to Monday June 17, 2019 4:00 PM, advisory will be issued until end of the event.

TIME/DATE OF THE NEXT REPORT: Monday June 17, 2019 4:00 PM

ADVISORY: Smoke from the Swan Lake fire on the Kenai Peninsula is trapped below the low level clouds and is impacting the air quality for Southcentral Alaska.  Expect smoke from the wildfire to spread throughout of northwest area of the Kenai Peninsula, specifically impacting air quality in the communities of Sterling, Soldotna, Kenai, and Nikiski.  Air Quality will vary between GOOD and UNHEALTHY depending on wind flow and proximity to the fires. See the table below for more guidance on the Air Quality Categories and Cautionary Statements.

Be aware that areas immediately downwind of any fire will experience HAZARDOUS levels of smoke. Generally, worse conditions occur overnight and during the early morning hours, as the atmosphere cools and brings smoke to the surface. During the day, surface heating will mix smoke and carry it upwards, temporarily improving air quality.

SMOKE AND PUBLIC IMPACT: This is an area forecast, and as such is a general forecast for portions of Southwestern Interior Alaska.  Smoke intensity will vary depending on precise location and local wind flow patterns.  Smoke concentrations will be such that they could impact public health at times.  It is advised that travelers check local weather as smoke conditions may vary considerably from one locality to the next. The most recent weather observations may be found on National Weather Service's homepage at http://pafc.arh.noaa.gov/obs.php.

In smoke impacted areas, DEC advises people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should avoid prolonged exertion; everyone else should limit prolonged exertion.

The following table contains the cautionary statements for the Air Quality for Particle Pollution.

Air Quality Category
Cautionary Statements
 Good
None
 Moderate
Unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion.
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
People with heart or lung disease, the elderly and children should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.
Unhealthy
People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should avoid prolonged exertion; everyone else should limit prolonged exertion
Very Unhealthy
People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should avoid any outdoor activity; everyone else should avoid prolonged exertion
Hazardous
Everyone should avoid any outdoor exertion; people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should remain indoors

When air quality data is unavailable, the following Air Quality Smoke Reference Guide may be used to estimate air quality levels and potential health impacts:

Visibility
Air Quality
10+ miles
6 - 9 miles
3 - 5 miles
1.5 - 2.5 miles
0.9 - 1.4 miles
0.8 miles or less
Good
Moderate
Unhealthy for sensitive groups
Unhealthy
Very Unhealthy
Hazardous

FOR MORE INFORMATION:  For information on this advisory, contact Mark Smith with the Division of Air Quality at 907-269-7676.

06/15/19: Swan Lake Fire Update Saturday: Afternoon Winds Expected to Push Fire


The Swan Lake Fire in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge grew in size Friday, but firefighters were able to keep it from spreading south and west toward the Sterling Highway. As expected, fire activity increased in the afternoon with warmer, drier conditions evidenced by a large smoke plume that was visible locally in Kenai and Soldotna as well as from Anchorage across the Cook Inlet. Winds carried the fire at a rate of ½ mile per hour by Friday afternoon; this growth enhances the ecosystem as it burns through black spruce and dense, mature vegetation. Personnel monitored the northeast perimeter while crews made strides on protection lines to the southwest perimeters. An air tanker and two large helicopters worked the fire with strategic water drops to protect the values associated with the community of Sterling, the Sterling Highway and energy infrastructures. Firefighters on the ground made good progress establishing indirect line along the east side of the 2017 East Fork Fire burn scar. Tactical firing operations were used in the late evening in preparation for the projected wind gusts that are expected to come from the east today.

The Nanooks Type 2 Fire Crew was instrumental in completing a Helibase location near Otter Trail Road in the community of Sterling. Today crews will take advantage of lighter fuels and pockets of wetlands along the southwest perimeter to continue creating black line and securing the fire. Water drops from aircraft will be used to support firefighting efforts on the ground. Retardant is not being used because of the fire’s proximity to an anadromous stream. Retardant could be used if the fire poses a direct threat to values at risk but that is not the case at this time.

WEATHER: Light rain and cooler temperatures are expected through the weekend; however, no wetting rain is anticipated to help slow fire activity. Fire meteorologists are watching southeast winds that may challenge fire management strategies in the late afternoon with possible gusts of 20 miles per hour.

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-related information, official updates and helpful links on the virtual joint information center (VJIC) at www.kpboem.com. Smoke predictions and health/safety topics are also listed on the VJIC. 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.

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. The Type 3 incident management organization is managing the fire’s growth and is focused on the protection of the community of Sterling while also mitigating smoke and fire impacts to the Sterling Highway.

KENAI NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE INFORMATION: For outdoor recreation or reservation questions, please contact the Refuge at 907-262-7021 or www.fws.gov/refuge/kenai/visit/contact_us.html. Contact the Refuge Visitor Center by calling 907-260-2820 or by clicking www.kenai.fws.gov.

Double click onto the map to enlarge.

Friday, June 14, 2019

06/14/19 Swan Lake Fire Update: Heavy Helicopters Support Ground Resources

Yesterday west winds pushed the lightning-caused Swan Lake Fire further east into the Dave Spencer Unit of the Kenai Wilderness. Crews observed shifting winds throughout the day and reported periods of increased fire behavior as they worked on the southwest section of the fire, preparing to defend the gas pipeline and improve indirect fireline along the East Fork of the Moose River.

Fire crews are taking advantage of suppression work completed during the 2017 East Fork Fire, and focusing all efforts to keep the fire east of the community of Sterling and the Sterling Highway. Heavy helicopters supported the Pioneer Peak Interagency Hotshot Crew and the Gannett Glacier Type 2 Initial Attack Crew throughout the afternoon with strategically-placed water drops. As anticipated, fire activity increased in the dense black spruce stands to the north and northeast as wind speeds increased throughout the afternoon. Additional aircraft and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Type 2 Fire Crew have been ordered to support suppression efforts on the southwest area of the fire.

Today, firefighters will focus efforts on constructing miles of hose lays in order to capitalize on a series of natural and man-made barriers, including the 2017 East Fork burn scar. They will also establish spike camps to reduce travel time during this period of heavy tourist traffic.

A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is designed to protect fire personnel who are conducting aerial transportation and suppression efforts from the interference of private, commercial, drones or airplanes of any kind. All pilots and drone operators are required to comply with this FAA travel restriction.

WEATHER: Anticipate an increase in cloud cover with a chance of light rain in the afternoon.

SAFETY: Smoke from the fire is visible from the Sterling Highway between mileposts 65 and 75. Motorists are urged to yield to fire apparatus entering the highway from the Alaska Division of Forestry station located at milepost 92. For current road conditions visit http://511.alaska.gov. A virtual joint information center (VJIC) has been set up online at www.kpboem.com for public information. Agencies are posting updates on safety, smoke impacts and fire-related information.

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. The Type 3 incident management organization is managing the fire’s growth and is focused on the protection of the community of Sterling while also mitigating smoke and fire impacts to the Sterling Highway.

KENAI NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE INFORMATION: Questions or requests should be directed to the Refuge by calling 907-262-7021 or visiting www.fws.gov/refuge/kenai/visit/contact_us.html. Contact the Refuge Visitor Center by calling 907-260-2820 or by clicking www.kenai.fws.gov.

Double click to enlarge map.
06/14/19 Swan Lake Fire Map indicates 8,400 acre fire perimeter. The light brown (or tan-colored) land units indicate previously completed fuels reduction work in the surrounding areas.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

06/13/19 Swan Lake Fire Update: Two Fire Crews Arrive Today

The lightning-caused Swan Lake Fire has roughly doubled in size to an estimated 6,951 acres and continues to burn in a limited protection area of the Kenai National Wildfire Refuge. The fire has burned west into the 2017 East Fork fire scar and is currently located 2.7 miles north of the Sterling Highway and 5.5 miles northeast of the community of Sterling. The winds have been primarily from the south pushing the fire further into the refuge and away from the highway and populated areas. With the early morning cloud cover yesterday, the fire behavior was noted as moderate and continues to burn both east and west in pockets of black spruce, resulting in the continued acreage growth. 

An aerial observation flight yesterday evening noted that the fire is burning in a mosaic pattern that will enhance wildlife habitats while reducing the decades long buildup of hazardous fuels. A robust series of natural and man-made barriers including the 2017 burn scar, decades of mechanical fuel treatments and the extensive wetlands reduce the potential for fire spread towards critical infrastructure and the community of Sterling. Two Alaska Division of Forestry 20 person hand crews are arriving today to bolster local resources and will begin work to secure the southwest corner of the fire. A Type 3 incident management organization is currently located at the Alaska Division of Forestry Kenai/Kodiak office. 

WEATHER: Calm weather continues at the fire and surrounding areas. Gusty winds from the southeast are expected to begin Friday afternoon with speeds of 10 to 18mph. Isolated thunder showers are possible over the fire area.

SAFETY: Smoke from the fire is visible from the Sterling Highway between mileposts 65 and 75. Motorists are advised to slow down, turn headlights on and use caution driving through the fire area. For current road conditions visit http://www.alaskanavigator.org/projects/sterling-highway-rehabilitation-skilak-lake-sterling. A virtual joint information center (VJIC) has been set up online at www.kpboem.com for public information. Collaborating agencies are posting updates on safety, smoke impacts and fire-related information.

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 to reduce future wildland fire hazards and enhance wildlife habitat by allowing for fire's natural role to create a diversity of vegetation types and tree age classes. The team is monitoring the fire’s growth and is focused on the protection of the community of Sterling while also mitigating smoke and fire impacts to the Sterling Highway. Alternate driving routes have been identified should the smoke from the fire impact this critical travel corridor.

KENAI NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE INFORMATION: Questions or requests should be directed to the Refuge by calling 907-262-7021 or visiting www.fws.gov/refuge/kenai/visit/contact_us.html. Contact the Refuge Visitor Center by calling 907-260-2820 or by clicking www.kenai.fws.gov.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

06/12/19 Lightning-caused Swan Lake Fire Estimated at 3,665 Acres





The lightning-caused Swan Lake Fire was estimated at 3,665 acres after a reconnaissance flight Tuesday evening, an increase of approximately 1,000 acres from Monday. Most of the new growth was to the northwest and northeast away from the Sterling highway and 5 ½ miles from the community of Sterling.


As of late Tuesday, the fire was approximately 2.7 miles north of the highway at its closest point near milepost 68.  Smoke from the fire is visible from the Sterling Highway between mileposts 65 and 75. Motorists are advised to slow down and use caution driving through the fire area.

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 to reduce future wildland fire hazards and enhance wildlife habitat by allowing for fire's natural role to create a diversity of vegetation types and tree age classes.

A Type 3 incident management team assumed command of the fire Monday morning and will be focusing on strategic planning and developing management action points for the fire.  The team will be monitoring the fire’s growth and developing a plan that focuses on ensuring protection of the community of Sterling and mitigating smoke and fire impacts to the Sterling Highway, while allowing the fire to reduce hazardous fuels and enhance wildlife habitats in the Mystery Creek area.  The team is also working with local agencies to ensure public safety. A virtual joint information center (VJIC) has been set up online at www.kpboem.com for public information. Collaborating agencies are posting updates on safety, smoke impacts and fire-related information.

The fire is located in an area where few values are threatened or where likelihood of fire impact has been mitigated.  The burn scar and recent fire lines from the 2017 East Fork Fire, cleared gas line right-of-way, mechanical fuel treatments and extensive wetlands form a robust series of natural and man-made barriers which reduce potential for fire spread towards critical infrastructure and the community of Sterling.

Due to ongoing fire activity in the area, refuge managers have closed the following access routes within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to the public: Mystery Creek Ranch Road, East Fork Moose River north of Watson Lake and the Enstar Pipeline right-of-way from the refuge boundary east of Sterling to the Chickaloon River. The closures were enacted to minimize risk to people and provide access by firefighters as needed. The closure will remain in effect through July 11.|

Questions or requests for copies of the closure order or maps should be directed to the Refuge at (907) 262-7021. People with recreational-related questions should contact the Refuge visitor center at (907) 260-2820.

06/12/19 Access Routes Closed within Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Due to ongoing wildfire activity in the area, Refuge managers have closed the following access routes within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to the public:
  • Mystery Creek Road
  • East Fork Moose River (north of Watson Lake)
  • Enstar Pipeline right-of-way (from the Refuge boundary east of Sterling to the Chickaloon River)
The closures were enacted to minimize risk to people and provide access by firefighters as needed. Questions or requests for copies of the closure order or maps should be directed to the Refuge at (907) 262-7021. People with recreational-related questions should contact the Refuge visitor center at (907) 260-2820.The Emergency Closure Order and map in its entirety is provided below:
Double click to enlarge the images.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

06/11/19 Wildfire Smoke Prediction for Alaska

Real time forecasts of wildfire smoke predictions are available at www.smoke.alaska.edu. You can also click the link located on the right column of this blog. When possible, avoid outdoor activities and stay indoors to lessen the impacts of smoke. Use caution when driving through areas that may be impacted by smoke, adhere to road signs and yield to firefighters and first responders.
UAFSMOKE (www.smoke.alaska.edu): Wildfire Smoke Prediction for Alaska: Smoke forecasts is supported by the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks in cooperation with NOAA Global System Division, Brazil's Center for Weather Forecasting and Climate Studies, and the USFS Missoula Fire Science Labs.

Monday, June 10, 2019

06/10/2019 Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Fire Update

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge experienced two days of thunderstorm weather last week, resulting in eight lightning-caused fires. Six of these fires are active on Refuge lands as of today:



Coal Creek Fire (Fire # 191), 13.8 acres in size, is burning northwest of Tustumena Lake. This fire started on Friday, 6/7 in the Funny River burn scar. This fire is 40% contained with progress being made on the ground.  It is burning in heavy downed timber where Soldotna Forestry helitack and the Type-1 Pioneer Peak Hotshot crew continue working today to cut a line around the fire and remove snags using chainsaws.



Swan Lake Fire  (Fire # 181) is being closely monitored where it burns adjacent to the 2017 East Fork Fire. This fire grew south yesterday to a size of 1746 acres. The Refuge is very familiar with this area of the Refuge, as it includes a prescribed fire project, has been mapped extensively by our Fire Personnel and structures like the ENSTAR gas pipeline were prepared  in 2017 by East Fork Fire crews to be defended if needed.  The East Fork Fire scar, Sterling Fuel Break and natural barriers provide numerous fuel breaks between the fire and local communities and the Sterling Highway.

As the fire burns in black spruce, its smoke column can be expected, visible from eastern Soldotna, Sterling and possibly the Anchorage hillside. Smoke was heavy east of the fire last night along the Sterling Highway and in Refuge campgrounds.

USE CAUTION WHEN DRIVING ON AFFECTED ROADS (in the vicinity of mile 68 and eastward on the Sterling Hwy)




06/10/19 How to Determine Visibility and Exposure Due to Smoke from Wildfires

Residents may be experiencing smoke from nearby wildfires due to the prevailing winds. The easiest way to determine visibility and limited exposure is using the 5-3-1 Index Method. See the chart below for limited exposure based upon who you are or what health conditions you may have:


Determine the limit of your visual range by looking for distant targets or familiar landmarks such as mountains, hills or buildings at known distances (miles). The visual range is that point at which these targets are no longer visible. As a general rule of thumb: If you can clearly see the outlines of individual trees on the horizon it is generally less than five miles away.

Ideally, the viewing of any distance targets should be made with the sun behind you. Looking into the sun or at an angle increases the ability of sunlight to reflect off of the smoke, and thus making the visibility estimate less reliable. Once distance has been determined, follow this simple guide:

If visibility is well over five miles, the air quality is generally good.
Even if visibility is five miles away but generally hazy, air quality is moderate and beginning to deteriorate, and is generally healthy, except possibly for smoke sensitive persons. The general public should avoid prolonged exposure if conditions are smoky to the point where visibility is closer to the 5-mile range.
If under five miles, the air quality is unhealthy for young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness. These people should minimize outdoor activity.
If under three miles, the air quality is unhealthy for everyone.  Young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness. These people should minimize outdoor activity.
If under one mile, the air quality is unhealthy for everyone.  Everyone should avoid all outdoor activities.

Additional resources on Health & Safety topics are listed in the right column of this blog.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

6/8/2019 Central Kenai Peninsula Fires - map







For updated Fire information, call the Division of Forestry Public Information Office at 907-260-4262.

Friday, June 7, 2019

6/7/2019 Tustumena Lake Fire Location Details

photo credit: Jason Jordet/AK DNR Forestry Air Attack
The 126-acre Tustumena Lake Fire, smoldering with minimal activity as of 6/7/19, is located at Lat: 60:04:57.7, Lon: 151:11:03.3  No structures are immediately threatened and fire officials estimate full containment by end of shift tonight. Call 907-260-4262 for updated Fire Information.


06/07/2019 Fire Starts Caused by Lightening June 5th on the Kenai Peninsula - UPDATE

Five fires started June 5, 2019 with four on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge ("Refuge")) after 128 lightning strikes were reported on the Kenai Peninsula. None of these fires are located close to any structures.

The Watson Lake Fire (#177) was reported near mile 71 of the Sterling Hwy. It had heavy rain fall after the report, and is being patrolled but no smoke was seen this morning.

The Mile 70 Powerline Fire (#178) measured .1 acre after suppression efforts and the fire is in monitor status.

The 10 acre Swan Lake Fire (#181) is located in a limited suppression area north of the Sterling Highway, adjacent to the East Fork Fire scar, Lily Lake Fire Scar and Sterling Fuel Break.  No values of risk are threatened at this time.

The Kolomin Lake Fire (#180) is south of Tustumena Lake, measured 1.2 acre  and there are six personnel from Pioneer Peak IHC on scene.  Although this is a limited suppression area,  the Refuge approved a non-traditional response given its close proximity to Full and Critical Response areas.

The Tustumena Lake Fire (#179) is not on Refuge Land but is closest to human structures to the southwest of the Lake, measured at 126 acres. No structures are in immediate danger. 15 personnel were ordered, including one load of smokejumpers and two firecrews. Currently there are now 42 personnel assigned to the Fire.