Alaska News

Monday, September 23, 2019

State tallying costs of battling summer wildfires across Alaska

Days of rain have dampened the big wildfires that exploded across Southcentral and Interior Alaska this summer, but burned areas are still smoldering, state forestry officials said Friday. Meanwhile the state is tallying the costs. As of September 18, expenditures of $168.9 million have been made by the state fighting wildfires, according to data released by the state Division of Forestry. This includes state expenses incurred fighting fires on federal lands such as the Swan Lake Fire, which is on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Those costs will be reimbursed by the federal government as well as a portion of the state’s costs in dealing with fires on state and other lands.
Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman

Anchorage Assembly weighs public safety and on-site inhalation of marijuana

The Anchorage Assembly's public safety and health policy committees held a joint meeting Friday to discuss how a proposed ordinance to allow on-site inhalation of marijuana could affect public safety. One concern: the effects of cannabis on drivers, and the potential for impairment. “What kind of training are they gonna be required to do to mitigate the risk of public safety, to identify the signs of impairment?” asked one officer from the Anchorage Police Department. Assembly member Chris Constant says training is being developed for employees to recognize when a patron shouldn't drive, similar to how bartenders are trained to identify someone too drunk to drive. But other Assembly members say that conflicts with another public safety concern.
KTUU-TV NBC 2 Anchorage

Friday, September 20, 2019

Anchorage Fire Department: Wildfire home inspections delayed

The Firewise Home Assessment Program is popular within the Municipality of Anchorage to better protect homes from wildfires — but the program may be too popular. The Anchorage Fire Department says due to an overwhelming public response home inspections may be delayed until next spring for new applications. "Anchorage experienced an extremely dry summer, accompanied by significant spruce bark beetle and wildfire activity which has dramatically increased interest in the program," an AFD community alert reads. The department visits homes and offers people specific recommendations on how to maintain their property to better protect against wildfires. The firewise program even offers financial assistance to cut down beetle killed trees if AFD recommends that.
KTVA-TV CBS 11 Anchorage

An Alaska wildfire is the nation’s most expensive so far this season

The nation’s costliest fire so far this year isn’t in California or Arizona. It’s here in Alaska. Fueled by the state’s record-breaking hot, dry weather over the summer, the Swan Lake Fire on the Kenai Peninsula is currently far and away the most expensive fire in the country at an estimated cost to fight of $46 million. The next closest fires, cost-wise, are California’s Walker Fire at $29 million, a roughly $6 million fire in Montana and a more than $5 million fire in Idaho, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. Swan Lake has been burning for months. It began on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge with an early June lightning strike. Federal refuge managers allowed the fire to burn to restore forest health. Smoky skies choked the Peninsula, extending at times into Anchorage and Mat-Su. Rain in late July reduced fire activity and staffing but it flared in August amid dry, windy conditions, briefly threatening the community of Cooper Landing.
Anchorage Daily News - Metered Site

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