Wildfires pop up near Chisana and Tanana

A photo of the Red Hill Fire taken Saturday evening. The fire, estimated at 1 acre, is approximately 100 miles northeast of Glennallen and 1.8 miles northeast of Chisana. (Luke Wassick/National Park Service)

Recent warm, dry weather in the interior has resulted in two late season wildfires. State Forestry reports sending fire fighters last night to a one-acre blaze, located about a hundred miles northeast of Glennallen, near Chisana.

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The department said the fire, burning in Wrangle St. Elias National Park and Preserve, was observed to be creeping and smoldering with light rain falling on it last night. Forestry said the fire is not accessible by road, and weather prevented firefighters from getting to it last night.

The other new fire was reported last week by a boater along the Tanana River, on a Native land allotment about 15 miles downstream from Nenana. The Alaska Fire Service said two firefighters went to the site Friday to work the fire, which was estimated at less than an acre, with activity again described as smoldering and creeping.

Both fires are suspected to be human-caused. State and federal agencies say Alaska has minimal staff on hand to fight fires in Alaska right now, as most are deployed to the battle major blazes in the western Lower 48.

The AFS says nearly 653,000 acres have burned in Alaska so far this year, well below the normal average of one to two million acres.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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