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Anchorage burn ban remains in place as state lifts campfire restriction

  • Author: Madeline McGee
  • Updated: July 18, 2019
  • Published July 18, 2019

Although some campfires are now allowed in designated areas, Anchorage fire officials are stressing that the municipality’s burn ban is still in place.

A bout of lower temperatures and rainfall prompted state forestry officials to lift a campfire restriction for Southcentral Alaska early Thursday morning, meaning that campfires less than 3 feet in diameter are allowed again on city, state and private lands.

The restriction had been in place since July 9.

In Anchorage, though, those campfires are limited only to certain locations in state parks that fall within the municipality.

“While campfires will be allowed in designated fire pits and rings in state campgrounds within the Municipality of Anchorage, the Municipality is retaining its ban on outdoor fires within the rest of the Municipality,” the Division of Forestry said in an emailed statement Wednesday.

In the nearly three weeks since Anchorage instituted its burn ban, the only fires allowed outdoors have been those contained in barbecue and pellet grills. Outdoor fireplaces, like chimeneas, were prohibited June 28, and burning yard debris and trash is already illegal.

Burn restrictions issued by federal agencies on federal land, as well as burn suspensions enacted by local forestry offices, were not affected when the state Division of Forestry’s campfire restriction was lifted. Burn suspensions remain in effect for the Kenai, Mat-Su, Fairbanks and Copper River areas as of Thursday.

On Thursday, 221 wildfires were burning statewide, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

Smoke from the Swan Lake fire, which is burning 101,000 acres on the Kenai Peninsula, drifted into Anchorage on Thursday, leaving a distinctly smoky smell hanging around town. The air quality index remained moderate — below “unhealthy” levels, according to state air quality data — and a National Weather Service forecaster said that while smoke could be a problem again Friday morning, there’s a chance it could clear up by the weekend due to shifting weather conditions.