Despite a burn permit suspension that went into effect for much of the state on Friday, May 1, wildland firefighters from the Alaska Division of Forestry responded to 14 new wildfires around the state on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Several of those fires were the result of illegal burning activities, such as burn barrels and debris burning, both of which require a permit and are currently suspended.
DOF firefighters also responded to several fires that were caused by legal burning or other activities that people need to be aware of, given the extremely dry conditions, especially in Southcentral Alaska where the bulk of fire activity occurred. Almost all of these fires started in populated areas with residences nearby, one of which was destroyed as a result. Fortunately, our firefighters were able to catch the rest of these fires when they were relatively small and before they did more damage.
Remember, this is an extremely volatile time for wildfires. Once the snow melts and dead, dry grass is exposed, all it takes is one spark to ignite that grass and fire will spread extremely. These conditions will continue and grow worse until we get some precipitation and/or the grass greens up. For the sake of yourself and your neighbors, we ask that residents please adhere to the burn suspension prohibiting the use of burn barrels, debris burning and lawn burning. Also, keep in mind there are lots of other ways wildfires can start. Please be careful with any kind of activity that could ignite a grass fire, whether it’s using a chainsaw, riding a four-wheeler, cooking with a charcoal grill, a chain dragging on the road, disposing a cigarette butt, etc.
Here’s a rundown of some of the fires our firefighters responded to and put out over the weekend, the causes and the acreage burned.
- Lollybrock Fire – Caused by an escaped, contractor burn pile in the Mat-Su Valley that had been burned at least four days earlier but not properly extinguished. Burned two-tenths of an acre.
- Country Fire – Caused by a can that had been placed in a barbeque and exploded on Sunday night in Mat-Su Valley. Ignited and spread in dry grass, burning one-half acre.
- Miller Loop Fire – Caused by escaped debris burn on Kenai Peninsula on Sunday night. Spread to a nearby wooden fence and burned one-tenth of an acre.
- Buffalo Mine Fire – Caused by an escaped burn barrel fire near Sutton in the Mat-Su Valley on Saturday. Burned two-tenths of an acre.
- Caribou Loop Fire – Caused by someone burning oil in a burn barrel in the Mat-Su Valley on Saturday. Burned one-tenth of an acre.
- Skyview Fire – Caused by a hot chainsaw in dry grass in the Mat-Su Valley on Saturday Burned one-tenth of an acre.
- Kelsi Fire – Caused by an escaped campfire on the Kenai Peninsula on Saturday. Burned three-tenths of an acre.
- Shirleysville Fire – Caused by embers from a gas tank flare at the Granite Tank Farm near Beluga on Saturday. Burned one-tenth of an acre.
- Scaulp Fire – Caused by a generator in Point MacKenzie area of Mat-Su Valley on Friday night. The generator caught the shed on fire, spread to dry grass and then spread to a residence, destroying the residence before firefighters arrived.
- This Way Fire – Caused by an escaped debris burn and spread into surrounding grass in Mat-Su Valley on Friday night. Burned two-tenths of an acre.
- Pittman Fire – Caused by escaped burn barrel fire and spread into surrounding grass in Mat-Su Valley on Friday night. Burned one-tenth of an acre.