Alaska fires have burned more than 5 million acres

The 2015 Alaska fire season reached another milestone Friday by surpassing the 5-million- mark in the number of acres burned so far this season. According to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center’s daily situation report released on Friday, a total of 743 fires have burned 5,013,053.4 acres to date. That total ranks the 2015 fire season No. 3 on the list of the largest fire seasons on record. The only two seasons with larger acreage totals at this point are 1957 at 5,049,661 acres and 2004 with 6,590,140 acres.
All Lower 48 firefighting crews brought to Alaska to help with suppression efforts have returned to their home units. Alaska firefighters are still busy across the state but a request for five of Alaska’s Type 2 Initial Attack Crews is anticipated. They could be headed south as soon as Monday.
While Alaska’s seasonal wet-weather pattern has started to develop, extremely dry conditions have persisted in parts of the western Interior, southwest and Seward Peninsula, allowing several fires to continue burning.
Recent dry conditions and increased fire activity resulted in firefighting crews being recalled to the Whitefish Lake 1 Fire burning in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge south of Aniak. Deep pockets of peat are holding heat and have sprung back to life as sunny days have dried things out.
Smokejumpers were re-deployed to the Carlson Lake Fire that started in late June inside Denali National Park and Preserve. The fire, at 40,258 acres, has burned outside the park boundary where it is now threatening structures, Native allotments and other values at risk. Firefighting crews had previously been on the ground in the area preparing sites by completing saw work and setting up sprinkler systems for this very scenario. Firefighters have also been redeployed to the Big Creek Two Fire south of Rubyto improve contingency lines put in place around the Atchley homestead along the Nowitna River.
The village of Hughes has seen very little relief at all this season. Firefighting crews have worked hard to protect the village from the 133,125-acre Rock Fire that started June 19 and is burning just outside of town on the same side of the Koyukuk River as the village. Across the Koyukuk, is the 124,950-acre Isahultila Fire that started on June 21 and has most recently been joined by the Bakatigikh Fire, another lightning-caused fire that started on July 24 and is working its way down Hughes Creek to again threaten the village.

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