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Sterling Highway Travel Not Advised, Expect Delays

Update 8:45pm:

The Sterling Highway is still open at 7:45 pm.

Fire Operations people are reporting a lot of activity on the Swan Lake Fire this afternoon primarily in the area north of Engineer Lake. The large pyrocumulus you can see over the fire is in that area. The western perimeter toward Sterling has not had much activity today since the winds have pushed the fire to the east.

There was also activity around Jean Lake and crews made some progress to the east where the fire has crossed Jim’s Landing. We don’t have any more specific information about that eastern perimeter.

A pyrocumulus cloud forms from rising air that results from intense heating of the surface by phenomena such as wildfires or volcanic eruptions. A big fire produces strong upward moving air currents that carry water vapor and ash upward

Update 6:00pm: 

Traffic has had extended delays along the Sterling Highway since late this afternoon. According to officials with the Great Basin Management Team travel is not advised as of right now going into the weekend.

If you do decide to travel expect delays up to an hour or longer at times. Traffic has been moving when crews can safely transport them through the active area. Be advised of heavy aviation work in the area, and crews on and near the highway.

We will continue to post updates if there are any significant closures on the highway, but as of this time drivers should just anticipate long delay times.

In addition to the increase in fire activity along the highway there was a wind shift that transferred the smoke from the Soldotna area back to Cooper Landing so anticipate limited visibility and poor air quality.

Continued updates will be posted as they are made available.

Updated 5:30pm:


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The fire flared up near the intersection of the Sterling Highway and the Peterson Kelly Lakes Road and is still burning to southeast towards Hidden lake. As a result, traffic on the highway is being delayed. Winds are favorable right now, but if they shift, there could be increased activity along the highway.

Fire managers are prepping a short stretch of dozer line running south from the highway into a wet slough. The line is about a mile east of the Kelly Lakes Petersen Road. They are trying to strengthen it to hold the fire from moving across it to the east. There is also active fire on the southern finger at the east end of Skilak lake. We are still trying to get updated information from the eastern portion of the fire, south of the highway, near Cooper Landing.

Updated 5:00pm:

According to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management, the Sterling Highway is still closed as of 5pm on Friday. Scooper planes are working along side the road in two areas south of the highway, dropping water on flareups. Residents may see a fairly large plume. It’s hoped that the delay is temporary but could be significant so please be prepared with water and food.

When you do move, drive with headlights on and watch for fire equipment.

Original Post 2:51pm:

Both lanes of the Sterling Highway have been closed between Mileposts MP 53 to MP 75 until further notice as of 2:51pm on Friday, due to helicopter operations and for firefighter safety along the highway.

This is anticipated to be a temporary closure. Motorists should expect significant delays. Alaska State Troopers suggest motorists avoid the area if possible.

According to to the advisory air quality is poor, expect delays, be aware of emergency vehicles on the roadway and travel is not advised.

Check for further information on www.kpboem.com or call the Borough Call Center at 907-262-INFO (4363) for updates.