Two fires yesterday in Fairbanks’ subdivisions could have been disastrous to the neighborhoods around them. The first occurred off Skyline Drive in the middle of the afternoon. Steese Volunteer Fire Department responded along with Alaska Division of Forestry engines and Helitack to a 0.5-acre fire burning in grass and hardwoods. Investigation determined a resident hadn’t realized they sparked a fire while working outdoors. The fire was contained and controlled. Firefighters are returning today to ensure there are no lingering hot spots.
The second fire was in Noyes Slough in the Aurora Subdivision. University Fire Department along with Fairbanks Fire Department responded and requested Forestry. The 0.1-acre fire was contained, controlled, and placed in monitor status. Investigators could not determine the cause but can rule out a natural start with no lightning reported in the area.
Conditions are extremely dry in the Interior. A Burn Permit Suspension remains in place for all three zones in the Fairbanks Prevention Area.
This time of year, Alaska’s fire season is driven by long warm days around solstice, which dry out the duff layer that can easily be ignited. Duff is the surface layer of decomposing moss, lichen, and tree litter, often about a foot deep, that makes up the floor of the boreal forests and tundra. The map below shows the moisture content of the mid and upper layers of duff. Red is extremely drought stricken.
Critical fire conditions exist across many portions of Alaska. Please be careful with all your outdoor activities as we approach solstice.