Dry winter poses big threat for wildfires in Southcentral Alaska

Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Southcentral Alaska's dryer-than-normal-winter may mean a greater likelihood of wildfires this summer.

State officials are warning that spruce bark beetle-killed trees on the Kenai Peninsula only add to the potential for flash fires.

The majority of all wildfires are human caused, said David Liebersback, director of the state Division of Emergency Services.

The Municipality of Anchorage already has canceled permissible debris burning this spring because of the extremely dry conditions. The little snow the Anchorage bowl received this past winter has melted, and the trees have not greened up yet.

That combination poses a real threat, Liebersback said.

One way to protect a home from wildfire is to clear defensible space around the structure by removing brush, old trees and overhanging branches.

Fire suppression is expensive, Liebersback said.

It costs the state about a half-million-dollars-a-day to fight wildfires, he said.

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