Alaska's wildfire season has been extended because of extreme conditions causing high fire danger throughout the state. It's the first time the season has been extended since 2006.

Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige made the announcement Monday. The season, which normally begins April 1 and ends on Aug. 31, is now in effect until Sept. 30.

“Unprecedented fire risk conditions for the Southcentral and Kenai Peninsula regions and the ongoing large project fires in these areas have created statewide challenges for wildland fire response agencies,” Feige wrote in her order extending the fire season. “Any new fires will further stress the overall statewide response capabilities.”

According to a DNR release, the extension of the fire season under state law means small- and large-scale burn permits will be required for open debris burning and the use of burn barrels through the end of September.

An emergency burn closure, which took effect on Aug. 21, remains in effect for the Kenai Peninsula and Matanuska-Susitna boroughs. The order prohibits any open burning due to extremely dry conditions and applies to all types of burning, including campfires and the use of charcoal grills on state, private, municipal and borough lands within closure areas. Campfires in established fire pits or fire rings in designated campgrounds are also prohibited.

Gas and pellet grills along with backpacking or camp stoves that use fuel or fuel canisters are still allowed because they are devices that can be turned on and off. However, state officials ask people to be cautious when using them.

This is the first time the season has been extended since 2006 legislation changed the five-month season to start and finish a month earlier, according to DNR. At the time, Feige said the one-month extension would ensure public safety.

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