Wild fires are nothing new to Alaska. Last year, one fire alone burned 250,000 acres. This year’s fire season is off to an early start thanks to unusually low snowfall over the winter and a warm, dry spring. Fire coordinators report that current fire activity is where it normally is by the end of July. Just yesterday 19 new fires started, mostly by lightning. So far this year according to the Alaska Inter agency Coordination Center, 238 fires have burned 114,906 acres statewide. 80 fires are active.
What does all this mean to Fairbanks? Smoke. Dense smoke. I noticed it a bit Thursday and yesterday, but today was much worse. Smoke rolled in about 1030 this morning and has been pretty thick all day. At times visibility was down to less than a mile. It’s coming from a 55,000 acre fire southwest of us. This fire is burning in the same area as the huge fire last year.
There also a 5,000 acre fire near the Canadian border. This fire is threatening the village of Tanancross and the community of Tok. My friends living near Tok had to evacuate on Thursday. Authorities say they can might be able to return late this evening. Even though it’s not the largest, this is the priority fire in the state due to the closeness to settlements. The Alaska highway has been periodically closed as firefighters work along the roadway.