The Caribou Fire (#135) can be seen burning about 23 miles northeast of Homer and about 2 miles west of Fox River on May 25, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Fenya Basargin)

The Caribou Fire (#135) can be seen burning about 23 miles northeast of Homer and about 2 miles west of Fox River on May 25, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Fenya Basargin)

Officials warn of wildfire danger ahead of Memorial weekend

Firefighters responded to the Caribou Fire 23 miles northeast of Homer this week

Dry conditions and warm weather are eliciting burn bans across Alaska for Memorial Day weekend, according to a press release from the state Division of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“For many Alaskans, Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer,” said Alaska Division of Forestry Wildland Fire & Aviation Program Manager Norm McDonald in the release. “We know lots of people are going to be out camping, hiking, boating, barbecuing, and enjoying other forms of recreation over the holiday weekend. We just ask them to be extremely careful when it comes to the potential for starting wildfires.”

According to the Division of Forestry, firefighters responded to the Caribou Fire 23 miles northeast of Homer this week. The division reported containment was up to 20% by a 21-person Pioneer Peak Hotshot wildland crew on Wednesday night.

There is a burn permit suspension in effect for the Kenai Peninsula, as well as the Fairbanks, Delta, Copper River Basin and Matanuska-Susitna regions. This suspension prohibits people from using burn barrels, burning brush piles and burning lawns. In Anchorage, campfires, burn pits and open fires are also prohibited during this time.

Regulations are also in place for campfires for areas with burn permit suspensions. Personal campfires 3 feet or smaller in diameter are allowed, but people are still encouraged to exercise caution.

The lack of precipitation and dry, dead foliage are susceptible to fire, the Division of Forestry said in the release. Other mitigation measures include not leaving fires unattended, securing a burn permit when necessary, clearing campfire areas down to soil, keeping campfires small, having extinguishing tools and water on hand, making sure a fire is fully out before leaving, and disposing of barbecue ashes and coals in a fireproof container.

The Division of Forestry reported that so far this season it has responded to a number of illegal burning activities that have resulted in wildfires.

Since the beginning of wildfire season on April 1, 124 wildfires had burned around 11,371 acres in Alaska as of Wednesday, according to the release.

Almost 80% of those — about 975 acres worth — have been human-caused.

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