Two hand crews have been dispatched to the Swan Lake fire after it nearly doubled in size overnight, reaching 6,951 acres as of Thursday morning. The fire was caused by lightning June 5 and is burning in a limited protection area of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. On Wednesday night the fire continued to spread, stretching west toward the burn scar of the 2017 East Fork fire.
According to a June 13 update from the Division of Forestry, winds coming from the south on Wednesday pushed the fire further into the refuge and away from the Sterling highway. At its closest point, the fire is 2.7 miles north of the highway and 5.5 miles northeast of Sterling. The Gannet Glacier and Pioneer Peak hand crews arrived on Thursday to begin securing the southwest corner of the fire and prevent it from spreading closer to populated areas. The fire continues to burn through pockets of black spruce and reduce the buildup of hazardous fuels in an area that has not experienced a natural fire since 1947.
A smoke advisory is still in effect on the Sterling Highway between Mile 65 and 75. Motorists are advised to slow down, turn headlights on and use caution driving through the area. According to the update from the Division of Forestry, alternate driving routes have been identified by the fire managers in the event that smoke or flames prevent travel along this section of the highway.
Visit www.akfireinfo.com or www.kpboem.com for the latest public information regarding this and other wildfires on the peninsula.