Green Guide

Alaska fire season shaping up to have later start

Posted 11:40 a.m. Thursday
Updated 11:42 a.m. Thursday

— Alaska authorities are saying this year's fire season won't be as heavy as last year, but there's still time for conditions to change.

Firefighters have already responded to a few calls for service, but not as many as last year, the Peninsula Clarion reported (http://bit.ly/2piZqSX) Wednesday.

Forestry staff will have a better idea of what kind of fire activity to expect on the peninsula once precipitation and weather data start filtering in more regularly, said Howard Kent, fire management officer for the Division of Forestry's Kenai-Kodiak Area office.

A common misconception is that the snowpack melting determines when the fires season starts, said Tim Mowry, the Division of Forestry public information officer.

The snowpack is important, but the overall season is more dependent on what precipitation areas of the state gets throughout April and May after snow has melted and fuel is exposed, he said.

Fire seasons have been starting earlier and lasting longer from year to year, and as a result there is a statewide push to begin firefighters' annual training and prep work earlier as well, Mowry said.

Included in training this year is a new fire suppressor that will be tested in Alaska.

The gel-based water enhancer, called BlazeTamer, will be tested in Palmer before being mixed into pumps used by state firefighters on the peninsula, Kent said.

If the Division of Forestry decides to use BlazeTamer going forward, Kent said it could end up saving money as the suppressor is less expensive than fire retardant, as well as more environmentally friendly.

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