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A role for pilots in Alaska firefighting efforts

A water tanker flies toward Chena Lake near Fairbanks to collect water for firefighters battling an Interior blaze in June 2013. YouTube screengrab

The Alaska Division of Forestry asks that pilots please be aware that they should maintain a five-mile clearance from all active fires in the state. This allows plenty of room for Alaska Fire Service aircraft handling retardant, hot shot crews and providing other operational assistance to maneuver with greater ease in these reduced visibility environments.

Pilots can find current information on fires burning across the state at the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center (AICC) website. Situation Reports and Fire Updates are usually posted at least daily during fire season.

Also, if you spot a fire in a location that has not been posted, please contact flight service as soon as possible and provide them with the specifics.

"AICC asks that private and commercial pilots report fires they think are new and use consideration near existing fires," says Maggie Rogers with the Alaska Division of Forestry. "For your safety and that of the firefighters involved, please stay out of the airspace whenever possible."

Contact Colleen Mondor at colleen(at)alaskadispatch.com