Late Spring Triggers Fire Danger, Burn Bans in Southcentral, Interior

Division of Forestry photo.
Division of Forestry photo.

The National Weather Service issued a “red flag” warning for portions of Southcentral Alaska on Thursday. And burn bans are going in effect around the state.

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Anchorage Fire Department officials say the fire danger is extreme in Southcentral and they’re asking residents to refrain from burning outdoors. John See, an AFD Forester, says a late Spring is the reason.

“Normally by this time our grasses have greened up,” See said. “We’re still in a situation where most of our grasses are still cured and very burnable.”

“So, until things green up we’re going to be living with an elevated fire danger and the risk of an ember or spark from a campfire or barbecue grill igniting a fire near one of our homes.”

In addition, forecasters predict winds will pickup along Turnagain Arm and portions of the Hillside. The Anchorage Fire Department has suspended all burning permits throughout the municipality as of Thursday. See says there have already been half dozen small fires throughout Anchorage this week, all less than an acre.

Maggie Rogers is with the Alaska Division of Forestry in Fairbanks. She says fire danger is also high for the interior and in the Matanuska Valley.

“We do have red flag warnings for a significant portion of the Interior of Alaska for lower humidities,” Rogers said. “And then, closer to Anchorage, for the Matanuska Valley, we have a red flag warning for strong winds that are out of the Knik River Valley, which could cause fire to spread rapidly should it start.”

Rogers says the fire danger is also high on the Kenai Peninsula. Lightning is predicted in some remote areas, but the biggest concern is human caused fires in populated areas.

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