More lightning means more wildfires in Interior, Southwest

July 16, 4:45 p.m. – It was another busy day for wildland firefighting personnel in Alaska on Friday.
Thirty-three new fires were recorded around the state – 17 in BLM Alaska Fire Service protection areas, 15 in Alaska Division of Forestry protection areas and one in U.S. Forest Service protection.
Nearly all the new fires were ignited by thousands of lightning strikes that spread across the state for the third day in a row. There were approximately 19,900 lighting strikes recorded in Alaska on Friday, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.
In the last three days, there have been approximately 45,570 lightning strikes and 114 new wildfires recorded in Alaska.
The hot, dry conditions and strong winds in the central Interior caused several existing fires to become more active on Thursday. That, combined with new fires, resulted in a more-than-100,000-acre increase in the total number of acres burned in Alaska this season. The number of acres burned yesterday was one-third of the total that has burned so far this season.
The increased fire activity combined with west/southwest winds pushed smoke from fires burning west and southwest of Fairbanks into the Tanana Valley and northern Interior on Saturday.
However, a change in weather may bring some relief from the onslaught of fires and lightning. A high-pressure ridge that has brought hot, dry conditions to much of the state for the last three days is being pushed out of the northern half of the state by a lower pressure system moving down from the northwest Arctic that will bring cooler temperatures, clouds and rain to many areas of the state north of the Alaska Range where much of the new fire activity has flared up.
To date, there have been 481 wildfires in Alaska this season and they have burned 299,632 acres. Of that total number of fires, 274 have been human caused and 207 have been started by lightning.

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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