A map of the Swan Lake Fire as of Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Courtesy of Northern Rockies Incident Management Team)

A map of the Swan Lake Fire as of Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Courtesy of Northern Rockies Incident Management Team)

September rains help suppress Swan Lake Fire

The fire has already seen between 2.25 and 3.05 inches of rain this month.

With about two weeks left in the month, the Swan Lake Fire has already received more rain in September than it did all summer.

Fire crews currently have the fire 57% contained at 167,164 acres, according to the latest update from the Type 2 Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 4. Incident Meteorologist Brent Bower reported on Thursday that between Sept. 1 and Sept. 18, the area of the Swan Lake Fire received anywhere from 2.25 to 3.05 inches of rain. For comparison, the Kenai Peninsula received 1.51 inches of rainfall between June 1 and Aug. 12, according to the National Weather Service as reported by the Clarion on Sept. 7.

Public Information Officer Kathy Arnoldus said on Thursday that the consistent precipitation has begun to make a significant impact on fire efforts. Arnoldus said that more rain is forecast over the next five days, which is expected to keep fire behavior low and mitigate potential spread. Deep pockets of duff do continue to smolder in some areas, and there has not yet been enough rain to penetrate these layers.

Portions of the Kenai Peninsula north of the fire remain in a state of extreme drought, according to the latest update from the National Drought Monitor. The area of the fire ranges from being in a severe drought to a moderate drought.

With minimal growth being reported, firefighters have focused their efforts this week on clearing burned trees from roadways and other public use areas. Tuesday night, high winds caused weakened trees to fall across Skilak Lake Road and the Lower and Upper Skilak Boat Launch roads. Fire crews worked on Wednesday to cut clear the fallen trees and reestablished access through these roads.

The entire length of Skilak Lake Road is open, including Jim’s Landing and the Upper and Lower Skilak Boat Launches.

Campgrounds in the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area remain closed due to the safety hazard posed by fallen trees. Drivers on the road should use caution and be aware of potentially blocked roads. Crews will continue to clear trees as needed to keep roadways open.

On the southern side of the fire and south of the Kenai River, repair of suppression lines will continue “where it is appropriate to do so,” according to Thursday’s update. Arnoldus said that no new containment lines are being built, but existing lines are being constantly monitored to ensure that they hold.

The structure protection group in Cooper Landing has spent the week packing up unused equipment and preparing supplies for backhaul. On Sept. 17, the “READY” evacuation alert for Cooper Landing was lifted by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management.

Management of the fire has cost $46.1 million as of Thursday, according to the situation report from the National Interagency Coordination Center.

More in News

Registered Nurse Cathy Davis (left) and Chief Nursing Officer Dawn Johnson (right) work at a table to get COVID-19 tests ready for the public Friday, May 29, 2020 at the Boat House Pavilion on the Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska. South Peninsula Hospital is now offering free COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic people with no appointments necessary at the Boat House Pavilion through June 6. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
1 new COVID-19 case in Homer as hospital offers free testing on the Spit

Additional COVID-19 cases announced in Soldotna and in a nonresident visitor to the peninsula

COVID-19. (CDC)
7 new cases of COVID-19 on Kenai Peninsula

4 of the new cases are on the southern peninsula, and Nikiski has its first case

COVID-19. (CDC)
2 new COVID-19 cases, 1 new hospitization

The Arctic Slope Native Association reported the first positive case in the North Slope region.

Photos by Megan Pacer / Homer News
                                Music lovers listen to a performance on the River Stage at Salmonfest on Aug. 4, 2018, in Ninilchik.
Salmonfest music festival canceled for 2020

Salmonfest director confident next year’s festival will go ahead as planned.

File
Man charged with illegally importing, releasing fish in peninsula lake

The man allegedly shipped 144 rainbow trout to Alaska that were released into a closed lake.

The Kenai River can be seen from the Funny River Campground on Sunday, June 23, 2019, in Funny River, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Area fishing guides hit hard by pandemic

“If the quarantine doesn’t come off pretty soon, I think we’ll just be out of luck this year.”

Tri-The-Kenai may be gone for good

The 10th running of the event this year would have been June 14.

COVID-19. (CDC)
State experts field questions on pandemic

The state also reported two additional resident cases and two additional nonresident cases.

Most Read