Burn suspension in effect as firefighters work to contain Loon Lake Fire

The fire, about 10 miles northeast of Sterling, had grown to just over 100 acres as of Tuesday.

An aerial photo of the 102-acre Loon Lake Fire footprint taken at approximately 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Swan Lake is in the background to the right. (Kale Casey/Alaska DNR-Division of Forestry)

An aerial photo of the 102-acre Loon Lake Fire footprint taken at approximately 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Swan Lake is in the background to the right. (Kale Casey/Alaska DNR-Division of Forestry)

A burn suspension is in effect for the Kenai Peninsula due to high fire danger, high fire activity and limited firefighting resources, according to a special notice from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.

The suspension comes as a team of more than 80 fire personnel are working to contain the Loon Lake Fire, about 10 miles northeast of Sterling, which was first reported on Saturday evening and as of Tuesday had grown to just over 100 acres. The fire was caused by lightning in the area and is about 4 miles west of where the Swan Lake Fire was started, also by lightning, in 2019.

A Tuesday update from the Division of Forestry said that the fire is about 15% contained, with the north side of the fire boxed in by Swan Lake. The Alaska Division of Forestry has worked with the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge since Saturday to coordinate response efforts.

“Hotter and drier conditions today will test containment lines as crews continue work to increase the depth along the perimeter,” the Tuesday update said.

As of Monday, a Palmer-based air tanker, two water-scooping aircraft based at the Bureau of Land Management’s Alaska Fire Service and two helicopters had all responded to the fire. Additional firefighting support, including the Palmer-based Gannett Glacier Type 2 Initial Attack Crew and the Midnight Sun and Pioneer Peak hotshot crews have also been called in.

“One of the crews will remain engaged on the fireline today but will be available for initial attack on any new, higher priority fires on the Kenai Peninsula. With high temperatures and low humidities today, surface fuels are critically dry in many areas which could lead to rapid rates of fire spread on new starts,” the update says.

A Temporary Flight Restriction has also been issued over the fire to keep the skies safe for aircraft responding to the fire. Two helicopters, an air tanker and two water-scooping aircraft have all helped respond to the fire. The Division of Forestry said Tuesday that an additional helicopter arrived and will shuttle in supplies to firefighters, such as hose, pumps, fuel and fresh food boxes.

“Hotter and drier conditions today will test containment lines as crews continue work to increase the depth along the perimeter,” the update said.

More information about the Loon Lake Fire can be found at akfireinfo.com.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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