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Over 1 million acres burned in wildfires this summer

While the East Fork Fire near St. Mary’s has died down, another large group of wildland fires in Southwest Alaska is burning rapidly, aided by dry conditions.
Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 5:39 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - While the East Fork Fire near St. Mary’s has died down, another large group of wildland fires in Southwest Alaska is burning rapidly, aided by dry conditions.

According to the Incident Management Team, firefighters have reached 100% of the containment objective for the East Fork Fire, with 71% of the total fire extinguished. The fire has been pushed back to 3.7 miles away from St. Mary’s and still has 242 personnel on scene.

“Fire activity across the East Fork Fire was minimal yesterday,” the management team wrote in their most recent update. “All areas of the fire south of the Andreafsky Wilderness have been contained. A limited portion of the fire continues to slowly creep north within the wilderness boundary and burn up interior pockets of fuel. The Alaska Type 2 Incident Management Green Team is preparing to transition management of the East Fork Fire and the Apoon Pass Fire to a Type 3 Team on Wednesday.”

The East Fork Fire grew to 163,533 acres, while the Apoon Pass Fire located 24 miles north of Mountain Village grew to 72,499 acres.

“Aerial monitoring of both the East Fork and Apoon Pass fires will continue regularly to look for hot spots, ensure containment lines are holding, and to identify any allotments, structures, or cultural sites that may be at risk,” the management team wrote.

The Division of Forestry posted a video detailing the response to the Lime Complex — a series of 18 fires in Southwest Alaska in close proximity. The largest of the fires in the Lime Complex is the Tatlawiksuk Fire at over 130,000 acres which began on June 4. Altogether, the Lime Complex fires cover 433,045 acres. Of the 18 fires in the Lime Complex, just four are staffed.

“The weather that is predicted for later next week and the high flammability of available vegetation as fuel for the fires, the potential for growth is very high going into next weekend,” the Alaska Fire Service wrote.

There are currently 111 active fires burning across Alaska, and 1,048,931 acres have burned so far in 2022.

The fire service also noted that an estimated 500-acre fire north of the Arctic Circle has forced the evacuation of the Arctic Circle campground. The Fish Fire is burning west of the Dalton Highway near mile 116 and was sparked by lightning.

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