A sign for trail closures can be seen on Skilak Lake Road on Sunday, June 23, 2019. The Kenai Wildlife Refuge closed recreation areas, including Bottenintnin Lake, Watson Lake Campground, Egumen Lake Trail, Petersen Lake Campground, Kelly Campground, Seven Lakes Trail, Skyline Trail and Jean Lake Campground over the weekend. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)

A sign for trail closures can be seen on Skilak Lake Road on Sunday, June 23, 2019. The Kenai Wildlife Refuge closed recreation areas, including Bottenintnin Lake, Watson Lake Campground, Egumen Lake Trail, Petersen Lake Campground, Kelly Campground, Seven Lakes Trail, Skyline Trail and Jean Lake Campground over the weekend. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)

Swan Lake Fire prompts recreation area shutdowns

The fire grew to 32,000 acres over the weekend

The Swan Lake Fire just north of Sterling is estimated at 32,300 acres with 379 personnel working to contain it, according to a Monday update from the Kenai Peninsula Borough and Alaska Incident Management Team.

Firefighting efforts intensified as north-northwest winds pushed the lightning-caused fire into the Mystery Creek Road area, crossing established containment lines, according to the update.

The fire is expected to be 2 miles from the Sterling Highway, where traffic may be delayed between Milepost 58 and 75 due to low visibility.

Over the weekend, the Kenai Wildlife Refuge closed recreation areas, including Bottenintnin Lake, Watson Lake Campground, Egumen Lake Trail, Petersen Lake Campground, Kelly Campground, Seven Lakes Trail, Skyline Trail and Jean Lake Campground.

All the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area trails, campgrounds and day use areas were cleared by law enforcement and are closed until further notice.

Monday, a burn suspension for the Kenai Peninsula was put in place until further notice, according to a press release from the Division of Forestry. The burn ban includes burn barrels. Campfires are allowed but must be kept smaller than 3 feet high and 3 feet wide.

“If you build a campfire remember to have plenty of water on site to suppress any embers that may escape your campfire enclosure,” the release said. “Individuals should check any fires they have lit in the past month to ensure that they are completely out.”

Fire crews are monitoring fire behavior and weather forecasts to minimize the disruption of traffic from smoke impacts along the Sterling Highway, the update said.

Crews continued preparing for burnout operations Monday, according to the update, focusing efforts north of the Homer Electric transmission line located several hundred feet north of the Sterling Highway.

Over the next several days the weather is expected to be hot and dry, with shifting and variable wins, the update said. Motorists are advised to use caution while traveling on the Sterling Highway.

The black spruce forests in the Sterling area have not burned since 1947.

The glow from the Swan Lake Fire can be seen on the horizon in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, June 23, 2019. The Swan Lake Fire, located just north of Sterling, Alaska, grew to 32,300 acres over the weekend. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

The glow from the Swan Lake Fire can be seen on the horizon in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, June 23, 2019. The Swan Lake Fire, located just north of Sterling, Alaska, grew to 32,300 acres over the weekend. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

The glow from the Swan Lake Fire can be seen on the horizon from the east entrance of Skilak Lake Road on Sunday, June 23, 2019. The Swan Lake Fire, located just north of Sterling, Alaska, grew to 32,300 acres over the weekend. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)

The glow from the Swan Lake Fire can be seen on the horizon from the east entrance of Skilak Lake Road on Sunday, June 23, 2019. The Swan Lake Fire, located just north of Sterling, Alaska, grew to 32,300 acres over the weekend. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)

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