The 2014 fire season approaches, the 2004 fire season remembered

Fire season 2014 is on the way and Alaska Fire Managers are well into the preparation for its arrival. Many in Alaska are old enough to remember that it was only ten years ago in 2004 that the state had the largest fire season on record. The 2004 fire season started off slowly. By the end of the season 6.6 million acres were burned and many areas were blanketed with smoke for weeks.

During the 2004 fire season there were a number of facts of interest. Here are a few:
• It was the state’s warmest and third driest summer.
• There were 150,000 lightning strikes recorded for the state compared to 45,000 annually.
• Over $110 million was spent fighting fires compared to the ten-year average of $10 million.
• Fairbanks was blanketed with smoke for 42 days.
• The largest fire of 2004 was the Boundary Fire, northeast of Fairbanks, at 500,000 acres.

There are those in the scientific community who believe that fire in Alaska and changes in the climate are connected. In the years since 1949, according to climate experts, summer and annual temperatures in Alaska have been on the increase. And last year Alaska surpassed the record 36 days with temperatures above 80 degrees.

While it is not known what this upcoming fire season will bring, we do know that fire is an important part of the ecology. Fire management options have been established to conserve firefighting resources by using tactics and procedures that allow for fire to perform its ecological role. There is often a consequence in terms of the level of smoke activity in an area. Smoke is associated with health risks among some individuals. Air quality advisories are an important part of community awareness. Frequently asked questions on wildfire smoke health and safety may be found on the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation website at http://dec.alaska.gov/air/smoke_qa.htm.

Firefighter and public safety is the number one priority of the interagency firefighting effort in Alaska. A strong partnership between the firefighting community and the public is critical to a safe and successful fire season. There are numerous resources available to plan, prepare and protect you, your family and your property. Take the time to review important fire safety guidance and use extreme caution when working or playing around fire. Let’s make this year the safest fire season ever! And remember, to report a wildland fire in Alaska, call 1.800.237.3633 or 911.

Alaska Wildland Fire Guide

Firewise Guide

The Burn Permit Program

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: