Rain in Interior Alaska has not been nearly enough to stop wildfires, officials say

Firefighters stand by the blaze and fire crews work to protect the structure (Photo by Cody Platz / Northwest Group 10)

Heavy thunderstorms rocked central and eastern Alaska on Sunday night.

Severe thunderstorms have been issued in the northeast of Minty and in the far south of Esther. National Weather Service meteorologist Kathleen Lardeo said the radar signature for the second wave indicates a dire situation.

“We were looking at a quarter of snow and it was blowing at 60 miles per hour,” she said.

Laardio said the weather service would like to hear from anyone affected by the storm.

“Anyone who could be under those warning areas,” she said. “Any camps or anything like that.”

As the week progressed, Lardio said, following Monday’s cold and wet weather, there was a potential for heavy thunderstorms again on Monday.

“From the northwest, from the coast of the Arctic to the interior, there will be a front that will last for the next two days,” said Laardiio. “This helps provide a little cooler heat, and also increases the chances of rain in the area.”

Meanwhile, in the last 24 hours, thousands of lightning strikes, and strong winds, red flag fire warnings have been applied to large areas of the central and eastern interior. According to Fire Information Officer Jose Acosta, the state recorded a red flag on Sunday.

“It was the tenth consecutive day with the red flag warning, and in 2015 it ran nine days,” he said.

Acosta said the rain was not enough to stop the fire.

“It has become drier than we want it to be due to the moisture in the soil and the trees and then the oil,” he said.

So far, more than 2.6 million acres have been burned, and there are more than 250 active fires in the state. As early as Monday, 17 were fighting, including the Mento Lakes north of Fairbanks, according to Information Officer Derrick Tisinger, who set fire to three locations south of the Chattanica River over the weekend.

“With the help of aviation, firefighters, including airplanes and helicopters, have been able to clear the area and deploy pipelines around them,” Tisinger said.

According to Tisinger, firefighters have continued to assess and protect 63 dangerous structures along the river and strengthen lines to protect the Himalayan and High Creek subdivisions.

More than 280 people are lighting fires on Lake Mento, which has burned more than 36,000 hectares. On June 21, lightning flashed.

According to an Associated Press report that ransacked local communities last week, workers continued to work on the blaze. The fire affected about 70,000 acres[70,000 ha]and was caused by lightning last month.

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