Lightning Strikes Ignite More Wildfires

The Alaska Interagency Fire Coordination Center is reporting dozens of new wildfires in the state.

Download Audio

Most of the new fires are in the interior where state information officer Pete Buist says recent hot, dry, windy weather has been followed by lightning.

“Thursday evening, we had nearly 5,000 lightning strikes statewide and we got 37 new starts [Thursday],” Buist said. “And many of those got fairly large right off the bat, and that’s a reflection of the dryness that we have from the weather over the last week or so.”

Buist says there are 70 active fires in the state.

A few are threatening populated places and being fought, including the 78,000-acre Lime Hills fire near Lime Village, in Southwest Alaska, and a new blaze that started near Anderson, off the Parks Highway.

“Got a request from Clear Air Force Station, they had seen a lightning strike there on the base, and by the time we got there it was really moving,” Buist said. “It got to over 100 acres last night and we’re hopefully gonna get around it [Friday], but we’ll see what happens.”

The majority of the current fires, which range from less than an acre to several hundred acres in size, were started by lightning.

Buist says Alaskans are doing a pretty good job being careful and not starting fires.

Fire fighting agencies have upped their official level of preparedness to from 2 to 3 on scale of five as the wildfire situation gets increasing complicated in Alaska.

Fairbanks and other areas are getting some light rain showers Friday, but more hot dry weather is forecast for the beginning of next week.

The National Park Service has banned all campfires in Wrangle St. Elias.  The agency says the temporary ban reflects extreme wildfire danger.

Similar bans are in effect on federal lands in Southwest Alaska where hot, dry weather and lightning have resulted in several large blazes.