Debris pile burning much riskier in spring – permits required April 1st.

Just one spark lofted into dry grasses, tundra or even moss covered spruce trees can result in an unintended wildfire.

Debris pile burning is considered to be much safer during the deep winter months.
Caswell’s Hidden Hills Fuel Break in December 2022 – Photo Lily Coyle/DOF

Debris pile burning is considered to be much safer during the deep winter months. Very short winter days often leave forests like this one in Caswell completely covered in snow and ice. That makes it much safer when burning woody debris as there is no risk of sparks causing additional unintended fires. Despite the occasional spring snowstorm, the conditions in Alaska have significantly changed. Across the state the melting snowpack exposes grasses and tundra to the sun and wind, while also drying out once frozen forests. Spring precipitation melts much faster, allowing for sparks to start unintended wildfires in the exposed and dry fuels.

The amount of snow on the ground leads people to think that burn piles will not be able loft embers and start other fires. This is simply not true. All exposed grasses, tundra and dry fuels are able to burn even surrounded by snow. This is one of the reasons that state law requires burn permits for small scale debris burning from April 1st-August 31st. Safe burning practices are located here:

DOF’s Safe Burning Series online

Reducing the number of human-caused fires in Alaska will not only provide a safer environment for the public and firefighters, but it will also assist with reducing the loss of structures, property damage, and fire suppression costs.  

Go online and print DOF small-scale burn permits This website is also a helpful resource for current conditions, burn restrictions in your area, and safe burning practices in Alaska.

Learn before you burn graphic.
Learn before you burn. Make sure your fire is “dead out” before leaving the area. Douse it with water, stir the ashes and feel for heat.
Take Time to Learn Before You Burn
Take Time to Learn Before You Burn

Categories: AK Fire Info, Alaska DNR - Division of Forestry (DOF), Fire Prevention, Firewise, Fuel Break Project

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