Wildfires expected to burn over 3 million acres in Alaska this summer

Wildfires expected to burn over 3 million acres in Alaska this summer
Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 6:14 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska is barreling toward 3 million acres burned this wildfire season as the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center Wildland Fire Dashboard reports 2.9 million acres burned statewide Thursday evening.

Alaska Division of Forestry Public Information Officer Sam Harrel said the state will likely cross the 3-million-acre mark for what has burned this wildfire season soon. DOF is currently staffing 12 wildfires and Harrel said their top priority is catching new fires early before they spread.

“If we can be aggressive on catching new starts, new fires, and prevent them from growing,” Harrel said. “Becoming more of a problem, more of a project-type fire that we need to bring a management team into and bring in more firefighting resources. If we can catch those fires in initial attack that’s really going to help us in the long run.”

Alaska currently has 1,900 firefighters fighting blazes across the state, and two fires in the interior are their top priority, according to Harrel. The Clear Fire near the Teklanika River has burned nearly 71,000 acres while Minto Lakes Fire has eclipsed 37,5000 acres, according to DOF.

“Our priority is still the Clear Fire. It’s affecting the most inhabited areas and still has potential for some pretty valuable assets, the Clear Space Force Station there, the community of Anderson, there’s still some potential there,” Harrel said. “So that’s our number one priority fire.”

Harrel added that he is hopeful more moisture in the forecast and less sunlight will slow down the burning across the state heading into the fall.

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