Wet Weather Gives Wildland Firefighters An Edge

The statewide wildfire response that’s been operating at peak for more than a month is ramping down. Wet weather over areas of the interior has calmed many fires.

Download Audio

Heavy rain showers have pelted the interior over the last few days, a weather pattern that’s replaced the hot dry conditions that allowed numerous lightning caused blazes to grow earlier in the month.  Alaska Division of Forestry spokesman Tim Mowry says the shift in conditions in many areas has dampened fire activity enough to allow downsizing the suppression operations.

At the end of June, much of Alaska was afflicted by wildfire. Credit: Alaska Interagency Coordination Center's map of active wildfires.
At the end of June, much of Alaska was afflicted by wildfire. Credit: Alaska Interagency Coordination Center’s map of active wildfires.

Mowry says the peak force of over 3,000 firefighters has been cut in half, adding that Alaska based crews are being prioritized for work. While many areas have received enough rain to stop fires, Mowry says that’s not the case everywhere.

There are still 285 wildfires that are considered active in the state, with 19 of those staffed. Mowry cautions that even wildfires, where activity has slowed substantially will continue to get attention.

Mowry says some of that work involves rehabilitating fire line, in some cases turning it into trails or access points.