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Fires and smoke in Alaska

Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 5:09 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - With all the smoke in the area, you might be wondering where the smoke is coming from and how close the fires are.

Fires burning in the state could be close and we might receive a small amount of smoke or the fires could be far away and produce a lot of smoke. Depending on the size of the fire and which way the wind is blowing determines how much smoke the Interior will receive and for how long.

According to the Bureau of Land Management, (BLM) there are 85 active fires in the state, 60 of which are currently uncontained.

There are seven staffed fires, one of which is contained and 78 unstaffed fires with 24 of those burns currently contained.

In the latest update from the Fire Weather Service in the Tanana Zone, the fire at Hog Butte is burning about 39 miles southwest of Lake Minchumina. This fire which started last Sunday has shown reduced behavior even though the smoke is reducing visibility of the fire. Fire personnel are continuing to service the 28,000 acre fire.

There is also a fire at Batztoa Lake, located in the Yukon-Koyukuk region, which has burned an estimated 89 acres. During the last reconnaissance of the area, the fire had a 5 percent active perimeter and a low rate of spread to the west.

Both of these fires were caused by lightening.

Meanwhile, the 123,000 acre East Fork Fire has come to within 3.5 miles of the community of St. Mary’s. BLM reports there are 204 people working the East Fork Fire and today, a shift in the wind direction is helping firefighters directly attack the fire. Cooler temperatures and the wind shift is helping slow the growth of the fire and damper weather is expected for the next few days.

Although there has been no mandatory evacuation orders for St. Mary’s, residents of St. Mary’s, Mountain Village, Pitka’s Point, and Pilot station are relocating voluntarily. A meeting to discuss the latest developments of the fire has been scheduled for today, Monday, at St. Mary’s Elementary School at 4 p.m. Fire officials will give an update on the fire and provide current and future plans to protect the nearby communities.

The Department of Natural Resources labels the fire danger for Interior Alaska as very high. Over 678,000 acres of land have burned so far this year. Most of the fires burning in the state have been caused by lightening.

Just a reminder, a burn ban is still in place for the Delta and Fairbanks North Star Borough areas. Fireworks are restricted in Fairbanks and North Pole and small and large scale burn permits have been suspended in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

To report a wildland fire call 911 or Alaska Fire Center 1-800-237-3633.

A brush fire in Fairbanks in May.
A brush fire in Fairbanks in May. (Courtesy Fairbanks Fire Department)

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