Rash of lightning strikes sparks nearly a dozen wildfires
Thunderstorm activity has been on the increase across Alaska this week, prompting severe thunderstorm warnings and numerous wildfires around the state.
In just a span of two days nearly 8,000 lightning strikes were detected across the state, which were primarily confined to southwest Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula. It's these areas that according to the Alaska Division of Forestry, saw 11 new wildfires spark from the afternoon thunderstorms. Three of those fires occurred Tuesday in southwest Alaska, with suppression efforts underway for two smaller fires near McGrath. The largest, which is a 150-acre fire near Mt. Hurst, is currently not threatening anything and has been placed in monitor status.
Numerous wildfires are also occurring across the Kenai Peninsula, thanks to numerous thunderstorms that affected Southcentral Wednesday afternoon. Fire officials say that there are currently 50 firefighters responding to the largest fire on the Kenai known as the Tustumena Lake Fire. The fire which is burning in the footprint of the 2007 Caribou Hills fire, increased from 45 to 121 acres Wednesday night with suppression efforts currently underway.
The Alaska Division of Forestry says that in addition to those fires, at least 4 others sparked in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, with at least three more fires reported near McGrath. While fire managers are currently assessing if any action should be taken, most of them are in a remote area and do not pose a threat at this time.
Lightning is a natural source of wildfires and causes the majority of large fires across the world. With more thunderstorms in the forecast through the end of this week, its likely that fire managers will detect more wildfires started by lightning.
For a look at current and recent lightning information from all over Alaska, click here.
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