The Swan Lake Fire can be seen from above on Monday, Aug. 26 on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Wildland Fire Information)

The Swan Lake Fire can be seen from above on Monday, Aug. 26 on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Wildland Fire Information)

Fire season outlook ‘average’ this year

While the outlook looks average, weather patterns and fire mitigation techniques can all be factors.

Fire season is expected to be average on the central peninsula this summer, the fire management officer for the Kenai-Kodiak area said on Tuesday.

Howie Kent with the Division of Forestry said that while the outlook looks average, weather patterns and fire mitigation techniques can all be factors.

“We have the potential every single year to have a Swan Lake or Funny River-type fire,” Kent said.

In 2014 the early spring caused the Funny River Fire in Soldotna, which burned close to 200,000 acres by the end of May of that year, according to Peninsula Clarion files.

More recently, Kent said, the Swan Lake fire eviscerated 168,000 miles of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in the summer of 2019. The fire started on June 5 and didn’t reach monitoring status — the point at which officials are comfortable it won’t escape the perimeter before heavy precipitation helps extinguish the fire — until Oct. 4.

Although the Swan Lake fire started from a lightning strike, around 96% of wildland fires are human-caused on the Kenai Peninsula, Kent said, emphasizing that escaped debris burns are the leading kind of human-caused fires.

“May and June are the most critical months,” Kent said.

Dead grass and other dried organic material can easily catch ablaze, while the wind can carry sparks quickly, he said.

The Division of Forestry often creates fuel breaks in forests with a higher probability of fire danger, which refers to altered vegetation in order to control or slow the spread of the flames. Kent said other federal agencies and Native corporations also aid in fire mitigation.

“It’s a coordinated effort for sure,” he said.

Around 60 out of every 200 or 250 calls, Kent said, are fires the department needs to suppress. The others are often small burns or unattended campfires, and sometimes just get filed as smoke reports.

Kent also emphasized the importance of adhering to burn permits.

These are required for anyone looking to burn this spring and summer. They can be found online at or at the Natural Resources-Forestry Division in Soldotna, as well as at different businesses and community centers in Kenai and Soldotna, including the fire stations, post offices and general stores.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at

More in News

A boat is lifted out of the water at Northern Enterprises Boat Yard on Kachemak Drive. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Northern Enterprise Boat Yard expands business

Northern Enterprises Boat Yard, Inc., the largest privately owned dry dock marina… Continue reading

Krista Schooley (left) testifies before the Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education on Monday, June 7, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Screenshot)
A ‘groundswell’: Conservative coalition seeks to expand influence on school policy

The vision of KPCCC is to “restructure and build the foundation of the 7 Mountains of Influence in our society through conservative action.”

Setnetters make their way back to the beach near a site on July 11, 2016 near Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion, file)
Personal-use setnetting opening Tuesday on Kasilof

The hours for fishing in the restricted area of the Kasilof River on Tuesday are from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
‘A lot of work to do’: Officials hope for summer bounce in vaccinations

Zink said just six months ago she didn’t think the state would have as much vaccine stock as it does now.

A map shows the location of the Loon Lake Fire. (Photo from AK Fire Info).
Flight restriction issued over Loon Lake Fire, now 15% contained

The fire was first reported on Saturday evening.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, talks during an interview in the Empire's offices. During the conversation, Young discussed ongoing infrastructure bill negotiations, the Arctic's strategic importance to the U.S. and why he's seeking a 26th term in the U.S. House of Representatives. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
The Empire sits down with Rep Young

We hit some of the wavetops of Young’s recent work.

The Alaska Grown logo.
Homer Farmers Market: Don’t forget Wednesday market

Food Hub also is an option for locally grown food.

A sign and road blocker at the head of the Hidden Creek Trail on Skilak Lake Road warns people about bear activity on Sunday, June 13, 2021 in Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Campers kayak to safety after Skilak bear attack

They were at the mouth of Hidden Creek along the shoreline of Skilak Lake

Most Read