Fire danger is high in Southwest Alaska

State wildfire managers are urging residents in Southwest Alaska to be vigilant due to early-season high fire danger in the region.

The lack of snow over the winter and early melt off this spring has exposed dead and dry vegetation, specifically grass, which is highly flammable and prone to ignition. That fact was highlighted two weeks ago with two significant wildfires over the course of three days in the area. A wind-drive grass fire near the village of Togiak burned 190 acres on April 17 after being ignited by sparks from a burn box in the Togiak landfill. About 20 volunteers from the village responded to fight the fire but they weren’t able to control it in 25 mph winds. Fortunately, the wind was blowing the fire away from the village and it did not pose a threat before the weather changed and rain extinguished the fire. Two days earlier, a grass fire near the village of Dillingham burned two structures and several acres before it was contained by the local volunteer fire department.

With no rain in the region in the past week, grass and other fine fuels in the area are once again dry and susceptible to wind-driven wildfires.

Officials with the National Park Service issued an advisory on Monday warning of high fire danger in both Lake Clark National Park and Preserve and Katmai National Park and Preserve until the area receives a significant amount of precipitation or green-up occurs. While localized rain, and even snow, may moderate fire danger for a short time, it takes only an hour or two for dead, dry grass to become flammable again.

Residents of the region are asked to use caution with campfires, off-road vehicles and any other recreational activities that could start a wildfire. For more information about fire danger and current conditions, contact the McGrath state forestry office at 907-524-3010.

About Alaska Division of Forestry

Alaska Division of Forestry website: http://forestry.alaska.gov/ Mission: The Alaska Division of Forestry proudly serves Alaskans through forest management and wildland fire protection. The Wildland Fire and Aviation Program provides safe, cost-effective and efficient fire protection services and related fire and aviation management activities to protect human life and values on State, private and municipal lands. The wildland fire program cooperates with other wildland fire agencies on a statewide, interagency basis.

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