Update: Troopers close Sterling Highway due to Swan Lake Fire, evacuation alert still active for Cooper Landing
As of 3:19 p.m. Sunday, DOT says troopers have closed the Sterling Highway between milepost 53 and milepost 75 due to fire activity. The department advised people not to use Skilak Lake Road as a detour.
The area around Swan Lake Fire is extremely dry and winds have pushed the fire across the Sterling Highway at milepost 60. According to AK Fire Info, the conditions caused increased fire activity on Saturday.
"There was substantial growth in the Thurman Creek drainage, and in the Mystery Creek and Dike Creek drainages," AK Fire Info wrote. "These conditions are forecasted to last throughout the weekend with expected wind gusts up to 21 miles per hour."
The Kenai Peninsula Borough issued a Level 1 evacuation alert for Cooper Landing, which means people should be prepared to leave if they are asked to evacuate. AK Fire Info advises people to help their family members with special needs and to make arrangements to move their boats, trailers or ATVs. People are also asked to get their pets and livestock ready.
An advisory was issued Saturday evening as smoke impacted travel on the Sterling Highway. The notice was issued for people traveling between milepost 54 and milepost 63, as well as Upper Kenai. AK Fire Info said the smoke may also impact Sportsman's Landing and Jim's Landing.
AK Fire Info said motorists should expect travel delays from milepost 48 to milepost 62. The fire is moving closer to Skilak Lake Road and it has been closed from Upper Skilak Lake Road to the east entrance of Skilak Lake Road due to limited visibility from smoke.
A number of sites at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge were closed due to fire activity. The refuge manager issued closures for:
- Fuller Lake Trail
- Skyline Trail
- Russian River Ferry
- Hidden Lake Campground
- Jim’s Landing
- Sportsman’s Landing
- Hideout Trail
- Kenai River Trail
Closures were also issued for the Chugach National Forest at:
- Russian River Campground south to Barber Cabin
- K’Beq' Day Use Area
- Barber Cabin
- Russian Lakes Trail to Russian River Falls
- Russian River Falls viewing platform
"Closures remain in place on Resurrection Pass trail from the junction of Devil’s Pass south to the Sterling Highway," AK Fire Info wrote. "This closure includes the public use cabins at East and West Swan Lake, Trout, Romig and Juneau cabins."
AK Fire Info says large columns of smoke were visible from Cooper Landing on Saturday and are expected to remain on Sunday. Temperatures are also expected to drop but conditions will stay dry, according to fire crews. Crews also say the air quality in Cooper Landing is hazardous and not expected to improve.
For the latest on the Swan Lake Fire, visit the Alaska Wildland Fire Information website. Travel updates can also be found online through the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. Those in Cooper Landing who have been asked to prepare for a possible evacuation can visit the borough's website or contact the call center at 907-262-4363 for updates.
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