More than 4,300 lightning strikes in the northern half of Alaska caused a number of fires over the weekend.
According to Charlie Reynar, the Assistant Fire Management Officer for Western Area Parks with the National Park Service, the number of lightning strikes isn’t uncommon, but it did ignite some fires in the Noatak National Preserve.
Two of the upstart fires near the Aniak River grew together and are now being counted as a single fire — reducing the number of active fires in the Noatak area to eight.
Over roughly the same span of time last year, the Noatak National Preserve had more than 30 lightning caused fires. National Park Service’s Regional Fire Communication and Education Specialist, Morgan Warthin says it was unusual.
The Interior Lightning Belt is defined as anything north of the Alaska Range and south of the Brooks Range.
There are 56 active wildfires in Alaska.
So far this season, the state has had 423 fires, burning over 269,000 acres.