Anchorage fire danger considered very high, restrictions in place

Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 4:52 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage’s continuing streak of hot, dry weather is a big concern when it comes to fires.

The Anchorage Fire Department has prohibited open burning of any kind according to the municipal website, which lists what items are allowed. The list includes most barbecue grills and pellet grills. Anchorage Fire Department Assistant Chief Alex Boyd said he doesn’t anticipate the situation will change any time soon.

“Even though temperatures are supposed to come down a little bit we are not going to see a significant amount of moisture,” Boyd said. “We expect to see very high fire danger continuing through the holiday and into next week, until we can see some substantial wetting rain.”

Boyd said one thing the department is particularly worried about are dry soil conditions, which can cause fires to spread, even underground. While not an official cause, Boyd said investigators believe the recent Elmore wildfire was started from a campfire that was seemingly out, but in fact was smoldering under the ground, only to pop up a week later several feet away.

“In Alaska we are unique, dirt tends to burn. We have so much organic material in the soil,” Boyd said. “So just consider, that’s why we are asking, in these very high conditions, to get the fire off the ground away from all combustibles, because it can go down and move a distance and pop back up.”

Anchorage police said they are taking a zero-tolerance approach to personal fireworks, which have long been banned within the municipality. The department said anyone caught with fireworks will get an immediate $300 fine. Boyd urged people to call 311 to report fireworks usage and to call 911 should they spot smoke or flames. He said, this year especially, people need to play by the rules.

“I hope they are going to do very well and everybody’s going to try and stay safe. However, I know some folks will get out of line, and I’m hoping that doesn’t create a problem for the community,” he said.

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