Surrounded by wildfires

I wrote awhile ago about being under smoky skies. It got worse over the weekend then better yesterday but got considerably worse again today. There are 3 huge wildfires burning near Fairbanks. The Wood River fire 20 mile southwest is over 100,000 acres. The Railbelt Complex 35 miles away is almost 600,000 acres. The Crazy Mountain Complex north of Fairbanks near Circle is over 400,000 acres.

There are also several smaller fires nearby. One fire started yesterday about 25 miles west of Fairbanks and is now about 1000 acres. There’s also another new fire along Chena Hot Springs Road 20 miles to the east but I don’t know the details. So no matter which way the wind blows we are going to get smoke.

There was ash all over my car this morning. Air quality alerts have been issued for dense smoke advisory. They have been saying people with respiratory problems avoid going outside.

Today was bad and getting worse. Tonight is maybe 1/4 mile visibility. Not only is the dense smoke advisory in effect, but the tv has been interrupted every 15 minutes with a dangerous air quality alert advising people to call 911 if they are having trouble breathing or go to the theater, a store, or the hospital if they can’t get away from the smoke where they are. I was in Fred Meyers tonight and the smoke is even making that big store hazy inside. It’s better than being outside but still smoky. I have coats against my door and the curtains closed to keep out any draft.

I did rent collection at my office this evening. The dense smoke made it hard to think well. I had trouble doing simple math. Tenants messed up counting money. There weren’t the usual evening joggers or bicycles on the road outside.

School in Nenana (50 miles south of us) was supposed to start on the 18th but has been postponed until September 8. There are over half a million acres of wildfire in the Railbelt Fire Complex within 15 miles and the Nenana school is where the fire fighters are based out of. Nenana also has a boarding school for high school and they don’t want those students coming into the smoke nor the regular students exposed to smoke. A neighborhood 12 miles south has been evacuated due to fires.

New fires are starting everyday and the existing ones are growing fast. Yesterday a 2,500 acre fire became 27,000 acres is just 6 hours. State forestry closed all state lands for wood cutting including commercial logging and individual firewood cutting. The closure includes all cutting, hauling, and equipment movement. No atv’s can be used. Basically they don’t want anything in the woods that could possibly start a fire. It is a tinderbox out there.

I don’t know if we will go anywhere tomorrow. We’ll just have to wait and see what the air is like in the morning. If it’s still bad I don’t want to go out. It’s just not safe. It’s hard to see, like driving in fog or dust. It’s hard to breathe. Best just to stay in unless absolutely necessary.

Please pray for rain and safety for the firefighters and those in danger from the fires.

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