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, July 30, 2019

Swan Lake Incident Commander Brain Pisarek says Thank You.

The Eastern Area Type 2 Incident Management Team will transfer command of the Swan Lake Fire to a smaller local IMT on Wednesday July 31. The Type 3 Team will monitor the fire and finish the remaining work which includes chipping and fireline repair. Incident Commander Brian Pisarek took a moment to thank communities, agencies and firefighters involved in the fire suppression effort as his team gets ready to travel home. 

Monday, July 29, 2019

07/29/19 The Blog Houses Updated Links as of Monday July 29th

The interactive map that was created for the Swan Lake fire has been placed in a dormant state as of today. This map was a great resource for residents and visitors to the Kenai Peninsula; approximately 30,000 viewers used the map service, and over the last thirty days 37,677 page views were recorded for overall blog activity. The contributing agencies value this blog as a public resource that will continue to be used for future area wide, multi-agency responses. For the Swan Lake fire, viewers are asked to visit the Inciweb link for fire updates that reflect current operational objectives or when the fire is formally handed back to the AK Division of Forestry Kenai/Kodiak unit. The Inciweb link continues to be hosted on this page too (see right hand column). This blog continues to also provide current links from the collaborating agencies on the Swan Lake fire.
Stay tuned. This blog is updated as the need arises, and certainly in a collaborative manner with the responding agencies during area wide response.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Swan Lake Fire Daily Update July 27, 2019

Updates on air quality from the Swan Lake Fire will no longer be produced unless circumstances warrant. For further information, please visit:

Additional Links

Alaska South Updates --
*Smoke and Health Info --
Alaska DEC Air Quality Advisories -- Alaska Division of Public Health --
Anchorage Municipal Air Quality Program -- Inciweb: Swan Lake Fire --
Additional Air Monitoring Data --

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Swan Lake Fire Suppression repair

Suppression repair work is well underway on the Swan Lake Fire. Here is a short video explaining how chippers and heavy equipment are used to repair suppression actions. 

07/24/2019 Kenai Peninsula Borough Interactive Map Updated

As of 10:00 AM today, the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has lifted the burn suspension for the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Residents are still required to have a current burn permit in order to burn debris. You may apply for a burn permit online at or contact the AK Division of Forestry, Kenai/Kodiak Area Forestry office at 907-260-4269.

Municipal authorities may have additional regulations regarding burning. The cities of Kenai (283-7666), Homer (235-3155), Seward (224-3445), and Kodiak ( issue their own city permits which are required year-round. If you intend to burn in an incorporated city, please contact the local fire department regarding permit requirements before you conduct a burn.

The interactive map below is updated daily to reflect the latest information on the Swan Lake Fire and open fire closure notifications. Click HERE to view the latest notifications by agency that are specific to the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
Click HERE to view the interactive map.

Swan Lake Fire Operation Video - 07/21/19

07/24/19 Swan Lake Update

*NEW UPDATE* Campfire restrictions have been lifted for Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Chugach National Forest and Kenai Fjords National Park

Sunday, July 21, 2019

07/21/19: The Many Faces of the Swan Lake Fire

Author: Todd Eskelin, Wildlife Biologist
The smoke hung low in the valley as we walked down a dozer line to its end where a clearing had been created. Just weeks before, a dozer crew had attempted to get ahead of an area of the Swan Lake Fire working its way south along Mystery Creek Road. This clearing was a safety zone for themselves and the equipment. Now the dozer line, which serves no tactical purpose for ongoing fire suppression activities, has been approved to be repaired.
As one of many local Resource Advisors (READ) I am part of a team of local experts prescribing and monitoring implementation of a repair plan for wildfire suppression activities. Our goal is to repair impacts to the landscape that are related to fire suppression, while embracing the positive effects of the fire itself on the landscape. This mostly means meeting the objectives of limiting exposed soil so it does not wash away. Covering exposed soil and encouraging native plant growth makes it difficult for invasive plant species to move into the area and get established. Finally, this repair work limits any unplanned access points that may encourage increased illegal ORV/ATV trespass.
On this day I worked with local operators running an excavator and a dozer, and their crew boss “Mo”. We outlined the objectives of what we wanted the “painting” to look like and then this “team of artists” got to work on their “canvas”. In this case their canvas was a wide dirt swath through the forest with a berm of organic material pushed to one side. We noted a couple of spots where erosion could be a future problem and then they jumped in. By leveling berms that were built up by the dozer push and pulling trees and vegetation mats back onto the cut they slowly working backwards from the end. They only had one chance to get it right. It would do more damage walking the equipment back in if they missed something. It was a steady and deliberate process. This team repaired 2 miles of dozer line and several “push out” zones in less than 2 days.
An excavator pulls vegetation back into a dozer line after the interior line was approved for repair 2019 Swan Lake fire (USFWS Todd Eskelin).
This is just one of the many duties of a READ. We provide information to fire crews on the natural resources and how the firefighters can meet their objectives while still protecting the values of the land owner be it Refuge, Borough, Forest Service, or private. This could be anything from a meeting with a dozer boss and discussing alternate routes to avoid an anadromous stream when possible or directing them to an old seismic line that already exists and provides easier access to the site they need to reach. The next day duties could be informing members of a spike camp on how to set up a camp system that would most effectively reduce potential bear problems. The job is ever changing as there are so many moving parts on a fire that is the size and complexity of Swan Lake.
A repaired dozer line from the  2015 Card Street fire showing 100% ground cover just 4 years after repair
(USFWS Todd Eskelin).
The vital role that a READ plays during firefighting activities is a testament to how professional wildfire suppression has become. This interface with local knowledge allows us to tap the expertise of firefighting teams from around the country. The longterm outcome will be successfully defending the public and public values from the fire, while still realizing the many beneficial responses to fire on this landscape. This habitat will likely see a conversion to younger seral stages of boreal forest. This means more willow, birch, and aspen supporting a different compliment of birds, small mammals, and especially moose.
The repair crew worked tirelessly in 90 degree heat with smoke, ash, and an occasional flame torching unburned trees. In the end they painted a picture of success with a unique canvas and odd brushes. It may not look like it yet, but over the next 2 years the ground will fill in with fresh growth originating from the vegetation they scattered across the cut. The trees both burned and unburned will deliver nutrients back into the soil and will provide structure needed so rain doesn’t wash the soil off the hillsides. It also structurally protects you shoots from being browsed immediately. As I bump on to my next assignment I can only admire the efforts of these crews both on the front end of the fire and those doing equally excellent work on the back end.
Todd Eskelin is a Wildlife Biologist at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Find more Refuge Notebook articles (1999-present) at or other info at

07/21/19 Swan Lake Fire Update

Please Click Here for Swan Lake Fire Update, Air Quality and Closures.

 Burn Suspension or Open Burning Restriction and Map for Kenai Peninsula Borough and Surrounding Areas

Saturday, July 20, 2019

07/20/19 Views from Swan Lake Fire

07/20/19 9:00 pm #SwanLakeFire

Swan Lake firefighters have been camping closer to the fireline in what is referred to as spike camps. These camps offer limited resources, but reduce the drive time to where the crews are working. Fresh food boxes with fruit, veggies and meat are provided to the firefighters. They then prepare the meal after a days work on the fire. 

Support staff at Cooper Landing School spike camp
Watson Spike located at Lake Watson

Peterson spike camp at Peterson Campground

Fire activity is moderating on the Swan Lake Fire, and they are still busy "mopping up" 200 plus feet into the burn from the containment line. Mop-up is the term used to clean bush and trees from the fire perimeters edge and extinguish any hot spots. Mopping up along the fire perimeter reduces the possibility of the fire progressing across the containment line.

Kootenai Handcrew limbing trees 
Kootenai Handcrew clearing trails
Crews have been utilizing existing trails and natural barriers to manage the fire. This reduces the impact of on the land from suppression tactics.

07/20/19 Swan Lake Fire Update

Please Click Here for Swan Lake Fire Update, Air Quality and Closures.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

07/18/19 Burn Suspension or Open Burning Restriction and Map for Kenai Peninsula Borough and Surrounding Areas

The burn suspension is still in effect on the Kenai Peninsula until further notice. What does this mean? You may not use burn barrels to burn trash. You cannot burn slash piles or debris of any kind on private or public lands.

What is allowed? Private property owners may have a campfire contained, and no bigger than three feet in diameter on certain lands. You may cook on a charcoal grill or a camp stove too. The attached map was created to help minimize some confusion. The map indicates where campfires are allowed (in green) and what areas are not allowing any type of burning (in yellow).

Remember, the burn suspension is still in effect, and while it is still legal to have campfires in “green” areas, please don’t build one until the Kenai gets some soaking rain days. Let’s have green grass not wildfires and ash.

When in doubt, check it out. Visit these links for more information in your area:

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
Chugach National Forest
Click HERE for the Interactive Map

07/18/2019 Swan Lake Fire Update

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

07/17/19 Campfires Allowed on the Kenai Peninsula Starting Thursday 08:00 July 18, 2019

With wildfire danger moderating as a result of cooler, moister weather, the Alaska Division of Forestry will end campfire closures on state, private and municipal lands in Southcentral Alaska, effective 8 a.m. on Thursday, July 18th. Open fires, including campfires are not allowed on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and the Chugach National Forest. 

Reversal of the Southcentral Alaska closure means campfires under three feet in diameter will be allowed in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the Copper River Basin and the Kenai Peninsula Borough. While campfires will be allowed in designated fire pits and rings in state campgrounds within the Municipality of Anchorage, the Municipality is retaining its ban on outdoor fires within the rest of the Municipality. Read the entire notice here: