Anchorage Fire Department issues fire danger alert ahead of holiday weekend
Updated at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 27
Officials are warning campers and those looking to enjoy the holiday weekend outdoors to play it safe, and forget the fire.
The Anchorage Fire Department issued a high fire danger alert for the Memorial Day weekend, citing continued warm and dry weather. A complete burn ban has also been issued for areas within the municipality — including Anchorage, Eagle River and Chugiak.
AFD issued a warning to private pilots and drone operators to stay clear of any active fire fighting areas.
“Remember, we can’t fight the fire as long as you are in the area. Remain at least 5 miles (radius) and 5000 feet (altitude) from all wildfires,” AFD wrote in the announcement.
All burn permits have been suspended for the Matanuska and Susitna Valleys, according to the Division of Forestry. The suspension will remain in place until weather improves.
An earlier fire weather watch issued by the National Weather Service for the Susitna Valley and Copper River Basin for the weekend has been cancelled, but people are still advised to use caution.
Over the weekend, temperatures are forecast to climb into the 60s and 70s across southcentral Alaska. The warming temperatures, along with low relative humidity values and northerly winds, will bring an increased threat for fire activity throughout the holiday weekend.
Rapid ignition, growth and spread of any fires that start will be possible on these days.
Fire weather danger is also high for parts of the Kenai Peninsula. Areas surrounding Kenai, Soldotna and Nikiski are classified very high fire danger with areas surrounding Homer, Ninilchik, and Anchor Point being considered high fire danger.
In a joint release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alaska Division of Forestry, it was announced that firefighters had recently put out holdover fires from the 2014 Funny River Fire and the 2015 Card Street Fire — both of which burned on the Kenai Peninsula.
In Anchorage, the Anchorage Fire Department has suspended burn permits and they’ve also prohibited open burns. Backyard fire pits are allowed, but only if they have a screen.
According to Alaska Wildland Fire Information, 150 wildfires have been reported, so far, this year. Although most have been small and were controlled quickly, the agency said they were mostly human caused.
“Nearly all the fires reported this season have been human caused and were therefore preventable,” the agency wrote on their website.
For statewide burn information, click here.
Municipality of Anchorage residents may call 267-5020 for updates throughout the weekend.
Meteorologist Rachel Penton and multimedia journalist Megan Edge contributed information to this report.
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