Update: 10:30 p.m.
The fire’s progression has stopped and is in between the “ready” and “set” lines in Cooper Landing, Bud Sexton, public information officer with the Kenai Peninsula Borough call center, said.
Sexton said 160 firefighters were on the ground fighting the blaze Monday night, and an overnight watch was set to monitor fire activity in the area.
The Sterling Highway was opened by 10:25 p.m. with pilot cars beween the Y intersection at the Sterling/Seward highways and Mile 71 at Watson Lake, according to an OEM update.
Shelters remained opened at Soldotna Regional Sports Complex and Seward High School for those stranded due to highway closures. The rodeo grounds in Soldotna were open to those with livestock.
Update: 8:50 p.m.
The Office of Emegency Management is instructing anyone on the Sterling Highway to turn around and head back to Soldotna. Do not proceed toward the Seward Highway.
Shelters are being opened at Soldotna Regional Sports Complex and Seward High School for those stranded due to highway closures. The rodeo grounds in Soldotna are open to those with livestock.
Cooper Landing was issued a level 2 — or “set” — evacuation alert Monday night.
The alert — which was issued for all areas of Cooper Landing — was upgraded from “ready” after the Swan Lake Fire became “increasingly active” and crossed the Resurrection Pass Trail at Slaughter Ridge, according to a 7:45 p.m. update from the Office of Emergency Management.
A level 2 evacuation alert is not a notice to leave, but signifies that those in the area should be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. Residents should get “set” by loading necessary items — such as people, pets, medication, important documents and personal items and a seven-day kit — into a vehicle.
Those with mobility issues or who need to relocate pets, livestock or large vehicles such as RVs, ATVs and boats may want to leave immediately, the OEM alert said.
By 8 p.m. the Sterling Highway was closed at the Y intersection of the Sterling and Seward highways to allow people leaving Cooper Landing to get out. Motorists near Mile 71 were directed to turn around and head back to Soldotna.
The Swan Lake Fire, which has been burning since June 5, grew to 150,264 acres over the weekend.
Early Sunday afternoon, the western portion of the fire pushed north toward the highway, causing overnight road closures between Sterling and Cooper Landing.
Isolated showers were present Sunday night, which increased winds in the area, the Great Basin Management Team said Monday. The Sunday evening winds increased fire activity along the highway.
The fire had 613 personnel managing the fire, including 18 hand crews, four helicopters, seven watertenders, 20 engines and four dozers as of Monday afternoon.
The fire hasn’t progressed toward Sterling, and structure protection at Kelly Lake, Engineer Lake, Upper Ohmer Cabins, Skilak Guard Station and Hidden Lake Pavilion remain in place.
In Cooper Landing, crews were working Monday to identify values at risk and to complete an assessment of structures within the community. Crews will also be working toward reducing fire risk around homes and businesses.
The weather continues to remain hot and dry, but wind will remain light. There was a slight chance for light and isolated showers on Monday, though wetting rains on the fire remain unlikely.
Caribou Lake Fire
The Caribou Lake Fire is estimated at 900 acres, with 20% containment. A Monday wind shift could increase fire activity on the south flanks of the fire, an update from the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management said. Minimal growth is expected over the next several days, the update said.