KENAI LAKE WATER SCOOPING PLANES DRAWING CROWDS
Rain helped firefighters on the Kenai Peninsula by slowing down the Swan Lake Fire, but winds that came with the fire made it more difficult for crews to get to where they needed to be to contain it. Field reports say rain hit the ground in most locations, but wasn’t substantial.
Crews are fully engaged around the perimeter of the fire, but are not able to get as deep toward the fire area, according to Rocky Gilbert, an operations chief of the Great Basin team.
At Jim’s Landing, they were getting rid of those tree-and-limb hazards as the winds were doing their damage. All containment lines held during the wind event.
Canadair CL-215 Super Scooper air tankers are operating on Kenai Lake near Cooper Landing and are attracting the attention of large groups of onlookers.
Fire officials are concerned that those stopping along the road to watch may be hit by passing vehicles, or even could be injured in the event the aircraft has a mechanical malfunction.
Officials ask that onlookers do not watch from directly under the flightpath of the aircraft, and instead use the Cooper Bay Boat Launch for spectating, if they must.
DESHKA LANDING FIRE
The containment of the Deshka Landing Fire remains at 95 percent and total acres burned at 1,318. Cooler temperatures and light rain aided firefighters as they systematically moved through the fire area within 300 feet of the perimeter, looking for ash pits and hot spots.
McKinley fire is 95 percent contained at 3,288 acres. While the perimeter is holding, the interior areas of the fire have hot high-hazard ash and ember pits, and the fire continues to smolder in the forest floor. Crews are working cautiously to mop up deep ash pits and avoid falling trees. Officials report several injuries from burns and falling trees among firefighters and residents. A structure group is assessing areas around homes for hazards. The focus is also on removing tree hazards along roads, especially as winds become gusty. Scattered rain and mild temperatures are expected this week.
A night shift is monitoring for flare ups and the mop up continues.
THE TOTALS SO FAR
Some 696 wildfires have burned 2,588,992 acres in Alaska this year, with nearly half of that in the Upper Yukon Zone. Some 163,000 acres have burned on the Kenai Peninsula and 5,231 have burned in the Upper Mat-Su area. In Southwestern Alaska, 587,543 acres are charred.
Fires were caused by both humans and lightning:
Humans caused 312 fires, for 40,316 acres burned
Lightning cause 366 fires, with 2,529,958 acres burned
Undetermined: 18 fires, with 18,717 acres burned.