High fire danger and large wildfires burning around the state are limiting the availability of firefighting resources. Until conditions improve, burn permits are suspended throughout the Matanuska and Susitna valleys.

"Every area in the state goes through their weather patterns where that will trigger a burn suspension," said Phil Blydenburgh, the Division of Forestry's acting fire management officer for the Mat-Su/Southwest area. "Just due to getting into conditions of extreme fire behavior or long-lasting fire on the landscape."

The suspension went into effect at 9 a.m. Tuesday. According to a release from the Department of Natural Resources, the suspension includes all debris burning, burn barrels and lawn burns.

"For Mat-Su, we typically have two to three suspensions per year," Blydenburgh said. "We try to realize that people, they have jobs to do. They're land clearing, they want to clean up yard debris, especially with the spruce bark beetle stuff going on this year around people's back yards. We realize that they're trying to mitigate that, so we want to be credible with it, we want to put it on as it's necessary and we're kind of at that point now."

 

Blydenburgh says the area is at that point now and suspension is aimed to alleviate any fires started by humans. Although it's still legal to have campfires, the DNR is advising against them until conditions change.

"This is Alaska and we fully understand that people like to camp and people like to have campfires," Fire Prevention Officer Ethan DeBauche said. "So, those fires for cooking and warming and purposes that are smaller than three feet in diameter are still perfectly allowed." 

If people do choose to have a campfire, there are a few precautions to keep in mind. According to the U.S. Forest Service, it's important to know how to maintain and extinguish campfires safely.

"We just ask for extreme caution and to always leave them attended with an adult," DeBauche said. "Never leave a fire unattended." 

Blydenburgh said the DOF is trying to eliminate human-caused ignition in the Valley. It's creating a big workload, and the organization is asking the public to be aware of the circumstances.

For the latest information on the burn suspension in the Valley, visit the DNR's Mat-Su area permits website.

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