A map of the Swan Lake Fire as of Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management)

A map of the Swan Lake Fire as of Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management)

Crews work to keep fire from highway

Firefighters to hold second community meeting to address Swan Lake Fire

The Swan Lake Fire has reached 37,430 acres, according to the latest update on Tuesday from the Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team.

Firefighter crews focused Tuesday on establishing a control line north of the Sterling Highway to prevent the blaze from spreading closer to the road. A community meeting was held Wednesday in the Sterling Community Center at 6 p.m. to update the public on the status of the fire, as well as on the current strategies being used to contain it.

Caused by lightning on June 5, the blaze is located about 2 miles north of the Sterling Highway and 5 miles east of the community of Sterling in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

A total of 383 personnel are managing the fire, including several ground crews from the Lower 48. These crews are working primarily along the southern and southwestern perimeters of the fire. Most of the firefighters were repositioned Tuesday to the Watson Lake Campground to establish an indirect fire line along the East Fork Moose River and halt fire spread to the west toward the community of Sterling.

Motorists should expect significant delays — up to 90 minutes, in some cases — along the Sterling Highway between Mile 58 and 75, as firefighters and their equipment occupy the southbound lane.

Campgrounds and trails within the Skilak Lake Wildlife Recreation Area have been closed since Monday. Public Information Officer Emery Johnson said that this is both for public safety and so that firefighters on the ground can better use the resources in the area. A full list of the areas that are closed can be found online through the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Office of Emergency Management at www.kpboem.com. Skilak Lake Road and the boat ramps at Upper Skilak and Lower Skilak Campgrounds as well as Jim’s Landing remain open at this time. A temporary flight restriction is also in effect for the area, and pilots can find more information at tfr.taa.gov.

For information on the Swan Lake Fire, call the incident management team at 208-391-3488.

Reach Brian Mazurek at bmazurek@peninsulaclarion.com.

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