Five crews from the Lower 48 will be arriving in Alaska today to assist in the management of the Swan Lake Fire. The fire, which was started by a lightning strike in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge northeast of Sterling on June 5, has reached 15,648 acres as of Tuesday afternoon, according to a June 19 update from Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team.
On Tuesday, management of the fire was transferred from a Type 3 to a Type 2 Initial Attack Crew, with total 169 total personnel now addressing the fire. The fire continues to spread primarily to the north and east, away from the Sterling Highway and the community of Sterling. Sam Harrel, public information officer for the Incident Management Team, said on Wednesday that hand crews have focused their efforts on creating fire lines on the southwestern perimeter of the fire to prevent any growth toward critical infrastructure.
The Incident Management Team will be hosting a community meeting at the Sterling Community Center at 6 p.m. on Friday to provide the public with information about the fire and to share the tactics and strategies being used to protect critical infrastructure throughout the community. In addition, firefighters are visiting Sterling neighborhoods to assess the readiness of homeowners. There is no immediate threat to Sterling, but now is the time to be prepared, according to the June 19 update. Information on how homeowners can prep for a fire can be found at www.firewise.org.
Harrel said that the weather in the area is expected to be warm and dry over the next couple days, which could allow the fire to expand into the weekend. Motorists should use caution between Mile 82 and 92 of the Sterling Highway as fire crews enter and exit the road. There is also a Temporary Flight Restriction in effect in a 4-mile radius around the fire. Pilots can confirm the current restrictions at tfr.faa.gov.