The largest fire on the Kenai only saw an increase of about 200 acres overnight thanks to the cooler and wetter weather across Southcentral. The fire started from a lightning strike on June 5 is now approaching 13,000 acres, the Alaska Division of Forestry said Sunday.

 

A map showing the perimeter of the swan Lake Fire as of Saturday night, June 15, 2019.

Crews are making progress along the southwest edge of the fire near the Sterling community. Officials say this is being done through improving the fireline and enhancing protections around energy infrastructure, of which a thermoelectric generator just east of the fire is a huge concern.

Even with the cooler and wetter weather in place, crews cleared out vegetation and began prepping water pumps and a sprinkler system near the generator, should the fire spread eastward, the Division of Forestry said.

Fire officials said the fire, which started naturally, could restart a fire in an area that hasn't seen activity in nearly 75 years. While crews are currently working to manage the fire, the increase in activity isn't necessarily bad. The current fire will help reduce the risk of future fires in the area, by removing the fuel for the fires.

Officials say once the fire sweeps through the area, a burn scar will be evident and will affect new fires for years by slowing their progress and giving firefighters more time to respond.

The Division of Forestry says although the fire saw minimal growth, their current objective is to reduce wildland fire hazards and enhance wildlife habitat by allowing for the fire to carry out its natural role in the environment, which is to create diverse vegetation types and tree age classes.

Although the cooler weather has gripped Southcentral this weekend, drier and warmer conditions will return to the region through this week. With the warmer weather on the way, firefighters are still taking measures by continuing to build and fortify lines along with the fire.

 

In addition to the Swan Lake Fire, 7 other fires across the state are currently being staffed, with dozens more being monitored. According to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, there are 58 fires across the state which is burning over 100,000 acres of land. 

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