Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dry Creek Fire

The Dry Creek fire was started by lightning June 23, but remained an inactive, insignificant fire (less than 500 acres) until mid-August. A stretch of warm weather, and a couple of days of brisk south wind, compounded with hardly any rain since late July, allowed the fire to spring to life and grow rapidly. As of Friday, August 24th, the Alaska Fire Service mapped the fire at just under 42,000 acres (map at right), making this the second largest fire of season in Alaska (the Uvgoon Creek fire in the Noatak valley was over 48,000 acres). Just to the southwest of Eielson AFB, the fire has burned right to banks of the Tanana. Happily, the Tanana here is wide and braided. On the negative side, the fire is perfectly placed to provide bouts of smoke for Fairbanks-land until the snow flies: any wind direction except northeast will push into some part of the area. The fire has received only small amounts of rain over the weekend, and while more will fall through Monday, the rain will be not be anywhere near enough to put out this fire. Warm, dry and  intermittently breezy weather is likely again by mid-week, which will undo what wetting has occurred.

Never in recent memory has a single fire sprung to life in mid-August and grown to account for so much of the total acreage burned in the state: the Dry Creek fire on August 11th accounted for less than 0.1% of the statewide acreage burned: as of Friday, it made up almost 17% of the 250,400 acres burned so far, and this will likely increase as there are no other active fires in the state (and have not been since late July). 

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