This summer one of worst fire seasons on record

Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- This summer will likely rank as one of the worst fire seasons on record in terms of acres burned, Alaska fire officials said.

More than 1.9 million acres have already burned this summer and there are more than 50 fires still burning.

''Given the weather we have and the fact that the fire season is not over, I'd say there's a good chance we'll surpass 2 million acres,'' said fire information officer Andy Williams of the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center at Fort Wainwright.

Williams said Monday it was still fairly dry in the western part of the state.

''Some of those fires in the western part of the state where you've got tundra, it doesn't take much to get those fires moving,'' he said.

The summer of 1957 was the worst fire year ever recorded in Alaska, according to Alaska Fire Service records dating back to 1955. That year, 5 million acres burned in Alaska.

The summer of 1969 is second on the list at 4.2 million acres, followed by 1990 with 3.2 million acres, 1977 with 2.3 million acres, 1988 at 2.1 million acres and 1997 with 2 million acres.

While firefighters were still staffing five fires in Alaska, Mother Nature did much to tame the situation over the weekend with cooler, moister weather preventing fires from spreading significantly.

''Most of them are winding down,'' Williams said.

The biggest fire still burning is the 257,550-acre Geskakmina Lake Fire, 75 miles west of Fairbanks, which was started by lightning June 8 and has been burning for more than two months.

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