The state of Alaska is warning people in the Southwest region that fire danger is high right now and discouraging activities that could spark a blaze. Fire officials took a flight around the region last week, says Hans Smith, a fire management officer with the Division of Forestry, and what they saw worries them.
“Toward Dillingham, Iliamna, Red Devil, Bethel, Aniak, all those areas. They’re what we called that snow free, which is about two weeks early for this area to be called snow free. So what that mean is that there’s not much snow on the ground and all the fuel from last year is one dry right now.”
With greenup still a couple of weeks out, Smith says, people should use caution with campfires, off-road vehicles, recreational activities and anything that could start a fire. it’s too early for lightning, he says, but what they’re worried about is humans.
“People on the river making campfires or the dump fires that go on or people burning brush. Just be very cognizant if you’re going to have any type of fire at all whether it’s at home or out on the river, make sure you’ve got water readily available and don’t let it get too big. And try to preferably build it onto some sort of sand or gravel area.”
Hot dry conditions are expected this week and into the weekend. Open burning is discouraged and residents are asked to refrain from burning if it is dry or windy, says Smith says. If people do burn outdoors he says they should remain on site at all times and have equipment and water on hand.