With hot, dry weather expected, Alaska boosts firefighting resources

A fire crew moves brush away from a firebreak
The Chena Hotshots fire crew works on a fire break between the East Fork Fire and the village of St. Mary’s on June 11, 2022. (Katie Basile/KYUK)

Alaska has moved up to its second-highest level of wildfire preparedness.

The rise to “Preparedness Level 4” went into effect at noon Wednesday and is based on the number of current wildfires in the state and the potential for more in the hot and dry weather.

Already, Alaska is having a historic wildfire season this year, with the earliest date on record that more than a million acres have burned. 

Bureau of Land Management Fire Information Officer Geoff Liesik said that the move to Level 4 means more firefighters, aircraft and other resources will be sent to Alaska. He said the state is working on requests from the Lower 48 for more resources, but he said it’s unlikely that all its requests will be fulfilled. 

“Unfortunately, as we all know, there are not enough firefighters and not enough equipment to go around in Alaska or in the Lower 48,” he said. 

As of Wednesday morning, no Lower 48 regions were above a Level 3 preparedness, according to a daily report from the National Interagency Fire Center. 

The weather forecast through next week is calling for hot, dry conditions in much of the state, including Southcentral and the Mat-Su. 

As of Wednesday morning, there were more than 133 active fires in Alaska and an estimated 1,143,506 acres had burned, according to the state’s fire information center.

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Lex Treinen is covering the state Legislature for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@gmail.com.

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