Weekend rains bring relief for Alaska wildfire crews

Weekend rains brought relief to crews battling Alaska wildfires, but conditions are expected to heat up later this week, capping a record fire month.

Only two new fires were logged Sunday, according to the latest figures available. But the area actively burning grew by about 257 square miles on Sunday alone. That’s an increase attributed in part to better fire mapping conducted as improved weather tamped down smoke that previously grounded some flights.

Nearly 2,462 square miles burned so far this month – breaking the old June record of 1,802 square miles set in 2004. Fire officials also initially said Monday that 2,975 square miles had been burned.

As of Monday, Alaska had 612 wildfires this season, including 314 that remain active over more than 2,265 square miles.