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.

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.