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)