Thousands of lightning strikes spark new fires in Interior Alaska

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Thousands of lightning strikes sparked new fires in the Interior Friday, increasing the number of acres burned in the state this year by 50 percent, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry.
 
Most of the fires burned in remote parts of the Interior, according to Tim Mowry, a spokesperson for the division. Mowry said the recent hot and dry weather conditions paired with strong winds had also caused several of the existing fires to become more active late this week.
 
“That, combined with new fires, resulted in a more-than-100,000-acre increase in the total number of acres burned in Alaska this season,” said a release from the division Saturday. “The number of acres burned yesterday was one-third of the total that has burned so far this season.”
 
By Saturday, 481 wildfires had ignited in Alaska this year, burning nearly 300,000 acres. Lightning sparked 207 of the fires while humans caused 274 of them, according to the state.
 
Mowry said a low-pressure system moving into Alaska from the northwest Arctic may bring some relief soon from the onslaught of flames. The system is expected to bring cooler temperatures, clouds and rain to areas north of the Alaska Range, he said.
 
Rain, cooler temperatures and a change in wind directions was already helping firefighters south of Fairbanks on Saturday, Mowry said.
 
A wildfire on the Salcha River burned about 1,170 acres Saturday, down from about 1,500 acres the day before. A change in wind direction had pushed flames away from the river and nearby cabins, the division said.
Courtesy of adn.com

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