Firefighters make progress on the 100,000-acre Swan Lake Fire

The fire is in Alaska south of Anchorage

Firefighters are making progress on the 100,000-acre Swan Lake Fire 50 air miles south of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula.

One of their key objectives is now complete — to cut off the southwest side from the Sterling Highway to the muskeg wetland areas on the south and west side of the fire. This is significant because it should keep the fire from moving further west toward Sterling.

Snow Creek Wildland Fire Module from, Bend, OR
Snow Creek Wildland Fire Module from, Bend, OR is assigned on the Swan Lake Fire in Alaska. Click to enlarge. InciWeb photo.

Ahead of the fire, firefighters continue to thin brush and understory vegetation along the Skyline Trail and Fuller Lakes Trail on the east side of the fire perimeter near Cooper Landing. The purpose of this effort is to reduce the chance of the fire spreading east along the highway corridor.

More Hotshot crews depart the lower 48 for Alaska fires

Burnout Hess Fire
Burnout on the Hess Fire in Alaska. InciWeb photo.

Five more hotshot crews are leaving today from Redding to assist with fires in Alaska: Elk Mountain, Modoc, Mad River, Eldorado and American River.

Alaska is in Preparedness Level 5, the maximum on the scale. The state has had more wildfire activity than usual for the last month or so, but record high temperatures last week beefed it up even more. The number of acres burned in the state varies greatly annually. In most years the total acreage burned is between 300,000 and 500,000. In 2013 it was 1.3 million and in 2015, 5.1 million acres burned. So far this year the total is 937,000 acres. The average over the last 10 years is 1.3 million.

Hotshot crews mobilizing Alaska
Hotshot crews mobilizing from Redding to Alaska. USFS photo.

The largest fire currently burning in the state is the 145,000-acre Hess Creek Fire 26 miles southeast of Steven’s Village. The blaze was very active Sunday, adding another 30,000 acres.

The second largest is the 96,000-acre Swan Lake Fire 50 air miles south of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula. The activity on this fire has slowed in recent days.

Hotshot crews mobilizing Alaska
Hotshot crews mobilizing from Redding to Alaska. USFS photo.

Wildfire burns 25 acres in Anchorage, Alaska

M.L.K. Fire Anchorage
Smoke rises from a wildfire in East Anchorage on Tuesday afternoon, July 2, 2019. Photo by Jason Jordet/Alaska Division of Forestry.

(Originally published at 3:53 p.m. July 3, 2019 ADT)

Two 20-person crews and additional firefighters from the Alaska Division of Forestry are working Wednesday to contain the 25-acre M.L.K. Fire in East Anchorage, Alaska.

The fire which was reported at 4:28 p.m. on Tuesday, spread quickly in or near the Bureau of Land Management’s Campbell Tract but Wednesday afternoon it is holding at 25 acres. On Tuesday three air tankers and a helicopter dropped water and retardant helping to slow the spread of the fire. Smokejumpers worked into the early morning hours Wednesday looking for hotspots. Firefighters also placed a hose line around the fire to provide a water supply to extinguish any hot spots found.

M.L.K. Fire Anchorage
A squad of firefighters from Mat-Su Area Forestry walk into the M.L.K. Fire to begin mop up operations on Wednesday morning, July 3, 2019. Photo by Stephanie Bishop/Alaska Division of Forestry.

Tuesday afternoon the Baker River Interagency Hotshot Crew from Washington responded to the fire from the Swan Lake Fire on the Kenai Peninsula and the Gannett Glacier Type 2 Initial Attack Crew was pulled from a fire near Lake Louise to assist with containment. A task force of four engines was also brought up from the Swan Lake Fire. A total of 66 personnel are assigned to the fire.

Today the two crews and the firefighters from the Mat-Su Area forestry office are focused on creating a chain saw line – cutting a swath through the vegetation around the perimeter of the fire to keep it from expanding. Fire managers expect to complete containment this evening.

M.L.K. Fire Anchorage
The MLK Fire burning in East Anchorage on Tuesday, July 2. BLM/AFS photo.

(Most of the text above is courtesy of the BLM/AFS)

There were no reports of injuries or burned structures. Soon after it started a few dozen people, including part of a mobile home park, were ordered to evacuate, but that was cancelled by 7 p.m.

The video below posted by the Alaska Division of Forestry, shows impressive flames that firefighters reported to be 60-feet long.

The blaze burned primarily in Black Spruce but slowed considerably as it moved into hardwoods.

M.L.K. Fire Anchorage
Firefighters from Mat-Su Area Forestry haul hose and other supplies down a trail to access and mop up the M.L.K. Fire in East Anchorage on Wednesday, July 3, 2019. Photo by Stephanie Bishop/Alaska Division of Forestry.

 

The article was revised to correctly indicate that the Baker River Hotshots’ home base is in Washington.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Steven. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Four crews complete their fire assignments in Alberta

hotshot fire crew Alberta
Snake River IHC. Alberta, June, 2019.

@AlbertaWildfire sent out a tweet today with four pictures saying goodby to four crews that had been assisting in the Province:

Today we say goodbye to our US firefighters that assisted us at the McMillan Complex in the Slave Lake Forest area. Thank you to the Prineville, Logan, Union and Snake River Hotshot Crews; we appreciate the support. Safe travels and all the best back home! #ABfire #ABwildfire

Click on the photos to see larger versions.

hotshot fire crew Alberta
Logan IHC. Alberta, June, 2019.

(Let us know which crew is which and we’ll add the crew names in captions. UPDATE — got them all identified. Thanks!)

hotshot fire crew Alberta
Union IHC. Alberta, June, 2019.
Prineville IHC Alberta
Prineville IHC. Alberta, June, 2019.

In addition to a number of U.S. firefighters in Alberta, at least 11 crews from the lower 48 states are assigned in Alaska according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center: Los Padres, Lewis and Clark, Chief Mountain, Golden Eagles, Crane Valley, Idaho Panhandle, Lakeview, Redmond, Vale, Wolf Creek, and Winema.

Six Hotshot crews from lower 48 are working wildfires in Alaska

Most of them are on the 23,200-acre Swan Lake Fire southwest of Anchorage

Swan Lake Fire Alaska
Swan Lake Fire southwest of Anchorage near Mystery Creek

Six Hotshot crews from Oregon and Montana arrived in Alaska this week to help suppress wildfires burning in the state.

  1. Lewis and Clark
  2. Lakeview
  3. Redmond
  4. Vale
  5. Wolf Creek
  6. Winema

Lewis and Clark is on the 300-acre Caribou Creek Fire 20 miles northeast of Fairbanks, while the other five are on the Swan Lake Fire which has burned 23,200 acres on the Kenai Peninsula 32 air miles southwest of Anchorage.

Swan Lake and Caribou Creek Fires Alaska
Map showing the location of the Swan Lake and Caribou Creek Fires in Alaska.

Alaska-based crews are also committed to fires in the state, including the Chena and Pioneer Peak Hotshot crews, plus 11 Type 2 crews.

At least 13 individuals from the lower 48 states are serving in overhead positions in Alaska.

The Swan Lake Fire is approximately 12 miles long and nearly 4 miles wide and continues to grow each day on the eastern flank as weather drives the fire primarily to the east and north. The addition of three type 2 Alaska hand crews as well as the recent influx of the Redmond, Wolf Creek, Vale, Winema and Lakeview Hotshot crews have bolstered efforts to establish direct and indirect lines on the critical east and southeastern perimeter lines.

Swan Lake Fire Alaska
Swan Lake Fire southwest of Anchorage, Alaska, June 18, 2019. Alaska DNR photo.

Below is an 80-second video update by Operations Chief Chris Wennogle about the Swan Lake Fire.

 

hotshot fire crew alaska
A Hotshot crew arrives in Alaska June 19. Photo by Robin Ace.
hotshot fire crew alaska
A Hotshot crew arrives in Alaska June 19. Photo by Robin Ace.

Air tankers and Type 1 crews dispatched to Oregon Lakes Fire in Alaska

Chena Hotshots Oregon Lakes Fire
Chena Hotshots unload their gear at the Oregon Lakes Fire, May 1,2 2019.

Sunday afternoon a burnout operation being conducted by a Type 2 hand crew on the Oregon Lakes Fire 11 miles south of Delta Junction, Alaska slopped over a fireline and burned 240 unplanned acres. Firefighters, aided by heavy equipment and a helicopter, were burning grass along a fuel break about two miles north of a military training impact area.

Two helicopters and both of the state air tankers that were on contract were used on the slopover, including Tanker 42, a Convair 580, that was on the first day of its contract.

It is very rare for retardant to be needed on a fire in Alaska this early in the year. The water-scooping Fire Bosses are not yet on contract, but would have been well suited for the job with the nearby Delta River serving as a water source.

In addition, two Type 1 Hotshot crews were mobilized Sunday, Chena and Midnight Sun.

Oregon Lakes Fire burnout slopover
This small photo provided by the Incident Management Team shows the burning operation in progress. At some point it spotted across the line, burning an unplanned 240 additional acres.

Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in place over the fire to prevent outside aircraft, including military aircraft, from interfering with the suppression efforts. Part of the TFR is over restricted military airspace.

The fire was reported April 30 and so far has been burning in an area that is off-limits to firefighters and low-flying fire suppression aircraft due to the likelihood of unexploded ordnance on the ground. It is burning mostly in tall, dry grass and downed trees from the 2013 Mississippi Fire west of the braided Delta River.

The Incident Management Team reports that the fire has burned 5,732 acres.

map Oregon Lakes Fire
This is the most current map of the Oregon Lakes Fire provided by the Incident Management Team. The perimeter was updated May 8, 2019.