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.