Temperatures dropped and relative humidity rose on Tuesday, resulting in a quieter day on the Swan Lake Fire. The hot, dry air that had been parked over the Kenai Peninsula was replaced by marine air moving in from the southwest. Grasses, lichens, and other fine fuels quickly absorbed moisture from the more humid air, making them less flammable and slowing fire spread. Larger fuels will need longer spells of high humidity before they become more resistant to fire.
While the fire is burning less intensely, it is still active. Fire spread has abated as more of the vegetation along the fire perimeter is hardwoods, tundra, and alpine vegetation, which are much less flammable than black spruce.
Areas within the fire perimeter are burning at varying intensities, with some areas nearly cleared of fuels and other patches unburned. This mosaic of burned areas greatly reduces the likelihood of future large scale, high-intensity fires. As the fire is cleaning up accumulated fuels, it is creating a more fire resilient landscape, resulting in more fire resilient communities
Firefighters continue to work on extinguishing residual hot spots along the south and west edges. In other areas, firefighters are taking advantage of reduced fire activity to complete fuels reduction work. This includes using existing features on the landscape, including trails, to create fuel breaks to slow or stop fire spread if it reaches these areas. Firefighters have thinned brush and other understory vegetation along the Skyline Trail and will be working along the Resurrection Pass Trail.
There will be a public meeting today at 6 p.m. at the Cooper Landing Elementary School.
WEATHER: The marine influence improved the air quality in Cooper Landing and other communities to the southeast of Swan Lake Fire. The southwest winds are not strong enough to override the normal diurnal winds that tend to be up slope during much of the day, then downslope at night. The result is improved air quality during the day, with smoke settling into some valleys at night. Tuesday’s air quality in Cooper Landing was rated at Moderate. Today’s weather is expected to be slightly cooler and more humid than yesterday’s. There is a chance of isolated thunderstorms over the Kenai Mountains. The marine influence is expected to continue through the weekend.
AIR QUALITY: The change in wind direction has provided some relief to areas impacted by smoke. Real-time air quality readings are available 24-hours a day at http://tools.airfire.org . Click on the Monitoring PM2.5 tab to find readings. For smoke forecasts from Alaska wildfires, visit UAFSMOKE at http://smoke.alaska.edu.
SAFETY: Along the Sterling Highway, watch for personnel, construction zones, and smoke on the roadway. Please use headlights and caution, especially during the overnight hours. For current road conditions visit http://511.alaska.gov. The Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) has expanded to include the western portion of the Chugach National Forest and still includes the Sterling Highway corridor. Pilots can confirm the current TFR restrictions at http://tfr.faa.gov. Personal drone operation is not permitted on the refuge.
KENAI NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE: Some Skilak Lake recreation facilities have reopened, others remain closed. For the latest updates please contact the Refuge Visitor Center at 907-260-2820 or go to http://kenai.fws.gov.
CHUGACH NATIONAL FOREST: A partial closure has been instituted on the Resurrection Pass Trail. Fire restriction are in effect on the Chugach National Forest. Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or some stoves, including charcoal fires, are prohibited. For the latest information on closures and fire restrictions please go to https://www.fs.usda.gov/news/chugach/news-events.