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Burn ban issued for Anchorage

Red Flag warning issued from Homer to Salcha
A brush fire in Fairbanks is being closely watched by state fire crews as officials prepare for a tense weekend of hot, dry weather in Southcentral and Interior
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 12:43 PM AKDT|Updated: May. 20, 2022 at 9:05 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTUU) - A brush fire in Fairbanks is being closely watched by state fire crews as officials prepare for a tense weekend of hot, dry weather in Southcentral and Interior Alaska.

The National Weather Service issued multiple red flag warnings Friday as a dry spring has led to a warm stretch of weather brought on by a system of high pressure. Red Flag warnings were issued from Palmer north through the Copper River Basin, the Eastern Alaska Range and the Tanana Flats including Delta and Salcha.

Additionally, the Division of Forestry issued a burn suspension for Interior Alaska, which includes areas around Fairbanks, Salcha and the Delta Junction region.

Friday afternoon, the National Weather Service expanded the red flag warnings to include Anchorage and the Western side of the Kenai Peninsula.

Friday evening, Anchorage Fire Department Chief Doug Schrage issued a burn ban in the Anchorage area in a press release.

“This ban prohibits open burning within the Anchorage area and applies to all open fires including backyard fire pits and recreational fires,” the release said. “Commercially produced charcoal, propane, and pellet fired barbecues are exempt from the burn ban but extreme caution should be used when operating. This burn ban will be in effect until further notice.”

Also on Friday, a two-acre fire broke out near Caswell Lakes. The Alaska Division of Forestry wrote in a Facebook post that the four local fire departments and a wildland crew responded and that work “is in mop up.”

A helicopter and engines from the Division of Forestry responded with Talkeetna, Caswell,...
A helicopter and engines from the Division of Forestry responded with Talkeetna, Caswell, Willow and Houston Fire Departments and the Gannett Glacier Fire Crew.(Photo courtesy Kale Casey)

Officials with the Division of Forestry and Bureau of Land Management warned of areas in Southcentral Alaska that will be vulnerable to fire, particularly as people head out to enjoy the sunny weekend weather.

“It’s going to be warm and dry and we haven’t hit greenup yet in many parts of the state,” bureau spokesperson Beth Ipsen wrote in a text. “(It) leaves that cured grass exposed and highly susceptible to new starts. It’s going to be a lovely weekend that will likely draw people outside. We’re asking people to be careful that their activities don’t spark a wildfire.”

In Fairbanks, a five-acre blaze sparked Thursday in an area of dense population. The Chena Landing Loop Fire, as it’s being referred to, was reported just off Chena Landing Loop Road near the banks of the Chena River but fire crews were able to get the fire under control, according to the Division of Forestry.

A brush fire in Fairbanks is being closely watched by state fire crews as officials prepare for...
A brush fire in Fairbanks is being closely watched by state fire crews as officials prepare for a tense weekend of hot, dry weather in Southcentral and Interior Alaska.(Courtesy Fairbanks Fire Department)

“The Chena Landing Loop Fire (#104) rapidly spread, fanned by gusty winds, along the north side of the river across from Pioneer Park,” the division said in an online post.

Sam Harrel, a spokesperson with the division, said fire crews left late Thursday night after mopping up the remains of the fire but added that they are back today to make certain there are no lingering embers.

“There are some heavy downed trees that are going to require heavy mop-up,” Harrel said. “They’re going to make sure this is fully extinguished.”

According to the division, there are currently 101 wildfires burning around the state — comprised of 11,353 acres — and 24 of them are considered active.

Another fire that the Division of Forestry worked to put out this week was the Olia Court Fire near Homer. Harrel said that one grew to 1.5 acres but is now out and has “no more hot spots.”

The coordination center is also keeping an eye on several small flareups in the Matanuska Valley. Kale Casey, spokesperson with the Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team, said crews have been responding to a “steady stream” of about two or three small, mostly human-caused fires each day. He said none of them are currently threatening structures or homes.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include additional Red Flag warnings as they have been posted by the National Weather Service, the Anchorage burn ban and the Caswell Lakes fire information.

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