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Burn closure takes effect before holiday weekend

Jenny Neyman/KDLL
This photo from 2021 shows smoke rising in front of a fire risk sign.

A burn closure will go into effect in most of Southcentral Alaska starting Friday night.

It’s been hot and dry in Southcentral Alaska for most of the summer, pushing the fire risk toward extreme. The Alaska Division of Forestry issued the emergency burn closure order on Thursday, taking effect on Friday just before midnight. All burning that would require a burn permit is now prohibited, including burn barrels, lawn burning, debris piles, commercial and agricultural burning and uncontained fires, like backcountry campfires.

Fires that are contained in a steel ring or other non-flammable device like a charcoal grill are still allowed, according to the announcement. That does not include rock rings, though. Any campfires have to be less than three feet wide and two feet high, made of only natural wood and paper, supervised at all times and fully extinguished when done. The Kenai Fire Department also recommended not starting a fire if the winds are higher than 10 miles per hour and putting an existing fire out if they exceed 15 miles per hour to reduce the fire risk.

The closure covers everywhere from Homer north to Fairbanks and east to Tok. The announcement comes ahead of the holiday weekend, when thousands of people tend to get out and go camping, hiking, and grilling. With continued warm, dry conditions predicted to continue into next week, the announcement did not give an end date for the closure.

For those clearing spruce bark beetle killed trees from properties, the city of Kenai is running a dump site from Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at a site on the north side of the city, just past the soccer fields. The site is not open to commercial contractors.

Elizabeth Earl is the news reporter/evening host for summer 2021 at KDLL. She is a high school teacher, with a background writing for the Peninsula Clarion and has been a freelance contributor to several publications in Alaska.
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