Fire season kicks off with over a dozen fires statewide

A 2.5-acre brush fire near Ninilchik on the Kenai Peninsula threatened homes Saturday. (Courtesy of the Alaska Division of Forestry)

The Alaska Division of Forestry is warning Alaskans in the Southcentral region of the state about high fire danger. Burn suspensions were issued for the Kenai Peninsula, the Delta and Tok areas through Monday, but those suspensions could continue through the week.

Division of Forestry spokesperson Tim Mowry said over a dozen wildfires cropped up around the state over the weekend.

“Yea, we had several fires pop up in Southcentral Alaska, mainly Mat-Su Valley, Kenai Peninsula over the weekend. We had more than a dozen fires on state protection areas,” he explained.

A 2.5-acre brush fire near Ninilchik threatened homes on Saturday and a snowmachine sparked a blaze on the tundra near Unalakleet in northwest Alaska as well. Mowry said that earlier snowmelts and later winters around the state have led to a longer fire season.

“That still does vary year to year. Last year for example, a real late spring and things didn’t get started up until early May,” he added. “It’s really weather dependent and snowmelt dependent. This year, we lost our snow around the state earlier than normal. So, that did trigger sort of an earlier start to that pre-green up fire season.”

Forestry is encouraging residents to track when and where burn suspensions are issued as the season wears on and even when there’s no suspension, to keep a close eye on any burn barrels and open brush fires, especially near any homes or structures.

“People just need to be really cognizant of the fact that any kind of spark can start another fire and follow all the conditions on the burn permit so there isn’t that possibility – clear down to mineral soil around your fire, have water and tools on hand, never leave the fire unattended,” Mowry said.

Fire conditions aren’t expected to improve for much of Southcentral Alaska through this week as no major rain events are in the forecast. You can keep track of the latest burn suspensions and fire conditions on the Division of Forestry’s burn permit webpage.

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