WASILLA — Campfires have been banned throughout Southcentral and Interior Alaska until further notice. The order includes the entire Mat-Su Borough.
The Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry and the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation were the first to make the call, announcing a joint order Tuesday. The Bureau of Land Management followed with its own announcement on Friday.
“We’re in the midst of a busy fire season with thousands of firefighters deployed across the state,” BLM Alaska State Director Chad Badgett said in a press release. “Prohibiting campfires during this time of high fire danger reduces the chance that someone will accidentally add another wildfire to the many we’re already fighting. We have a hand in a safe fire season.”
The ban includes all open fires on BLM lands. That includes fire rings and pits in campgrounds. The ban is nearly identical to the order issued by DNR and forestry earlier in the week.
“Conditions are almost perfect for the smallest spark to quickly become a large, dangerous wildfire,” Chris Maisch, director of Alaska Division of Forestry, said in a press release. “There are hundreds of people putting their lives on the line dealing with the fires we have, and we simply can’t risk creating more.”
In addition to the Mat-Su Borough, the order also includes a campfire ban in the Municipality of Anchorage, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Denali Borough, Glennallen south to Valdez, and the Tanana Valley.
There are 117 active wildfires in Alaska as of Tuesday, according to the Division of Forestry. There is a total of more than 2,000 personnel fighting a combined 24 of those fires.
The ban includes fires in pits or rings at state campgrounds, as well as cooking, warming or signaling fires. The use of charcoal grills, gas grills and backpacking or camp stoves that used fuel or compressed canisters is allowed.
There are currently two major fires burning just south of Talkeetna, but crews have been able to make significant progress over the last week. The Malaspina Fire, first reported on July 7, was at 85 acres and 40 percent contained as of Friday, according to forestry. The Montana Creek Fire, first reported July 3, was at 365 acres and 45 percent contained as of Tuesday.
For more on both fires, see additional coverage at frontiersman.com.
Contact the Frontiersman at firstname.lastname@example.org.