Alaska life hack: Smoke gets in your eye edition - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, September 22, 2019
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Alaska life hack: Smoke gets in your eye edition

It might not be the day to run a marathon in Southcentral or Interior Alaska. The smoke is thick, and about to get worse.

One family in Anchorage opened all their doors and windows due to the 80-degree heat in the area and their home not having air conditioning. A little while later, their household smoke alarms started to go off and they were contacted by their home security company to see if everything was  OK. It was just the smoke coming into the house from the Swan Lake fire on the Kenai Peninsula.

From the Atwood Building in downtown Anchorage, a visitor was not able to see as far as Merrill Field, about 1.6 miles away.

Air quality is poor around much of the state of Alaska. Here are some updates:

CENTRAL/EASTERN INTERIOR: Light winds from the west and south will continue to transport smoke to the east-northeast. The eastern interior will remain warm and dry so fires there should continue to be active.

SOUTHCENTRAL: A shift in weather on Sunday will cause southerly winds which will transport heavy smoke into the Anchorage bowl and southern Mat-Su valley as far north as Willow. The Kenai will see smoke impacts again this morning, particularly along the highway south of the fire and east to Coopers Landing. Late afternoon through the evening southwest winds will push smoke out to the north.

To check on the latest smoke forecast click here.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • I was reviewing the fire mapping from about two weeks ago. It appears that the powers-that-be had an opportunity to put out the Swan Lake fire around that time. I recall hearing from a sweetheart about how some thought that the remaining burn was actually improving the habitat. Then the fire blew up big-time and we have had a week with BAD air quality. Oh, and as the fire moves north, the fire forces have less and less access to the burning area. I expect that soon, if the smoke clears, we will be able to see the fire from the Rabbit Creek overpass. The fire reports have stopped mentioning the Swan Lake fire. I suspect that is because there is nothing good to report. The fire leaders should review the lessons of the Miller’s Reach fire more often. Kill these fires when you can.

    • It seems like they just let it burn for most of the month of June!

      I do know it is causing a lot of lodges and resorts on the Kenai to lose their primary summer income, with cancellations the rule now rather than the exception.

      Is this political fire management?

      It seems the Swan Lake Fire definitely could have been nipped in the bud early.

      Just as record sockeye salmon returned to the Russian river, where daily limits were raised from 3, to 6, and then 12……the smoke from the fire was so bad, you actually had to risk your health or bring a respirator to floss for reds.

      The coming 90 degree temps and high winds leading us into July could spell disaster.

      Where does the buck stop on Swan Lake?

      • The critical days were June 16 and June 17; the maps show that the fire apparently did not grow at all on those dates. Seventy-five percent of the fire has occurred after those dates. I suspect that most of the fire folks are too young to remember Millers Reach. Just re recap: it is my understanding that when the Millers fire started, the MatSu fire department responded fairly quickly but was subsequently told to “stand down” by the State DNR people. Then the wind shifted and things did not end until much of the Big Lake area burned to the ground. Brilliant bureaucracy at work.

        • “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you’ve got.” ~Paul Harvey

          If you don’t like fires and need big brother to bail you out on the regular, Alaska is probably not a good place to claim “conservatism”.

  • Where are the Climatists now that the conscious human decision to put tons and tons of CO2 and particulates into the air has been embraced by the ecologists?

  • What is more important human life or forest management? I know I am not the only one being effected with the relentless suffocating smoke taking over our breathable air along with soaring temperatures and no air conditioning. I worry about those who have medical conditions which this effects and those who are truly being compromised with smoke and heat. I to have been following the Swan fire and also saw a time when it looked like the end was near if efforts were there to bring it to an end. Besides the health issue, there is an economic issue, tourists. Tourists who support Alaska business and Alaska business depends on it.

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