An emergency burn closure for the Kenai Peninsula and Matanuska-Susitna boroughs is being lifted this week, officials with the Alaska Division of Forestry said.

The closure went into effect about two weeks ago, prohibiting all open burning, including campfires and charcoal grills, on state, private and municipal lands. At 8 a.m. Wednesday, it will be rescinded.

State Forester and Director John "Chris" Maisch said fire danger has been reduced in the boroughs after cooler, wetter weather across Southcentral over the weekend. DOF said while the rain wasn't enough to extinguish wildfires burning across the state, it did help moderate fire behavior.

“Even with the burn closure rescinded, people still need to be extremely careful with any kind of burning,” Maisch said. “While the rain over the weekend was enough to dampen fine surface fuels, it was not substantial enough to penetrate down to the deeper layers of the duff that remain extremely dry.”

When the closure lifts, campfires and charcoal grills will once again be allowed in the boroughs. However, DOF said burning debris in the open or in a burn barrel still requires a small- or large-scale burn permit under an emergency order extending Alaska’s wildfire season through Sept. 30.

DOF said they will continue to evaluate fire conditions daily to determine if burn permit suspensions are warranted. For more information or to find out if conditions are OK to burn on any particular day, people are advised to call their local state forestry office or visit the state's website.

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