A plume of smoke rises from the Swan Lake fire area as vehicles head south on the Sterling Highway on July 18, 2019, near Skilak Lake, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

A plume of smoke rises from the Swan Lake fire area as vehicles head south on the Sterling Highway on July 18, 2019, near Skilak Lake, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Swan Lake fire flares up, again

The 102,906-acre fire has experienced substantial growth over the last few days.

Weeks after fire crews wrapped up their containment efforts, the Swan Lake Fire is growing again.

According to the latest update from the Incident Management Team, the 102,906-acre fire has experienced substantial growth over the last few days.

A cold front has moved in from the north and brought dry winds that are pushing smoke into Cooper Landing and the Kenai River corridor. The wind conditions also dried out fuels in areas near the Thurman Creek, Mystery Creek and Dike Creek drainages, leading to increased fire activity.

These conditions have prompted managers of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to close the Fuller Lakes and Skyline Trails.

The Chugach National Forest has implemented a closure on Resurrection Pass Trail from the junction of Devil’s Pass south to the Sterling Highway. This closure includes the public use cabins at East and West Swan Lake, Trout, Romig and Juneau Cabins.

After the cold front passes, temperatures will drop but conditions will still be very dry. Persistent smoke in Cooper Landing has also caused hazardous air quality conditions.

Aircraft will continue to drop water on an area of heat north of Upper Jean Lake and in an area northwest of Fuller Lakes. Aircraft working in these areas will be visible from the road, and motorists in the area are asked to be alert for vehicles stopped along the highway. Dangerous conditions can exist when traffic flow is disrupted by vehicles stopping to view suppression operations.

Drought codes are still very high and the fire is burning deep in ground fuels. It will take a substantial amount of precipitation to penetrate to the deeper layers. Some cloud cover is expected on Tuesday, but no rain is predicted in the 10-day forecast.

The fire is still west of management action points that would necessitate evacuation notices, however, some area closures remain in place. The following access routes within the refuge are closed to the public: Mystery Creek Road and the Enstar Pipeline right of way north from the refuge boundary east of Sterling.

For questions about the fire, call 208-391-3488 or visit www.kpboem.com for the latest information.

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