This satellite image shows the wildfire situation east of Fairbanks on June 29, 2004. That year is generally considered to be the worst Alaska fire season on record. During June 2004 alone, a total of 216 fires and 1,153,257.9 acres burned. By the end of 2004, Alaska’s total acres-burned reached 6,590,140 acres. It was a tough year.
June 2015 isn’t quite over, but our totals with one day left in the month are sobering: 399 fires have burned some 1,600,000 acres.
The wildfire situation this summer has mainly been triggered by repeated lightning storms tracking across an abnormally dry state. (The lightning has been astonishing; on June 21-23, some 50,000 lightning strikes were recorded in Alaska.) In fact, a comparison of fire records shows that June 2015 has had dramatically more lightning than June 2004.
While this month has surpassed June 2004 in several metrics, firefighters are working hard to contain fires that are threatening towns, villages and other improvements.