Alaska, USA — A wildfire in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday sent up towering columns of smoke and had more than doubled in size to 1,100 acres over twodays.
But it’s a good burn, said Jim Hall, deputy refuge manager.
The Swan Lake fire is spreading like an amoeba on the south shore of Skilak Lake, he said, extending flaming tendrils and leaving a patchwork of scarred areas that will one day support browse for moose.
Plus, the smoke roiled toward the Harding Icefield and the Gulf of Alaska, so it didn’t bother any cities on Saturday.
“It’s almost perfect conditions for this type of fire,” he said.
Elsewhere, more than 40 active fires are burning across the state. Many in rural areas aren’t being fought, Hall said. About 375,000 acres have burned in Alaska this year, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.
The Swan Lake fire is bounded by Skilak Lake to the north, alpine areas to the south and scars from past wildfires on the east and west. The lightning-sparked blaze is contained by those natural barriers, and refuge firefighters are letting it do its own thing for now, Hall said.
Refuge firefighters have protected a private cabin at Douglas Point on the lake’s south side, cutting back vegetation and laying hose to wet the area.
The refuge stands ready to respond with a bucket-dumping helicopter if the fire threatens other private property there or a lodge five miles to the east.
The fire has burned up slope away from the lake toward the south and away from that private property, Hall said.