With three major Alaska wildfires burning, more ground is on fire here than in any other state in the U.S. besides Arizona, drawing crews from the Lower 48 and aerial tankers from Canada.
As of Thursday, active fires were burning across almost 47,000 acres in Alaska, much of it on the Kenai Peninsula, authorities say.
Rising winds expected in Southcentral by Thursday afternoon had commanders dispatching firefighters and aircraft to hold back fires near at-risk areas including homes on the Kenai and the complex of oil, natural gas and energy facilities near Beluga, across Cook Inlet from Anchorage.
Strong wind and low humidity prompted the National Weather Service to issue red-flag warnings for critical fire conditions from 2 p.m. Thursday until 10 p.m. Friday for the Susitna Valley and western Kenai Peninsula -- sites of the two largest fires in the state. Forecasters predicted "strong and gusty northerlies" with very dry air behind them.