Map of the more than 1,800 lightning strikes throughout Alaska on May 30, 2020.

Map of the more than 1,800 lightning strikes throughout Alaska on May 30, 2020.
Firefighters and aircraft were are busy Sunday working on two lightning-caused fires burning within 25 miles of Unlakleet with more firefighters slated to joint the effort after lightning became a big factor in new fire starts in Alaska this weekend. Lightning is suspected of causing more than 15 new fires in Alaska this weekend.

There were approximately 1,858 recorded lightning strikes throughout the state Saturday with Sunday's tally at more than 2,900 by 8 p.m. On Saturday, the lightning was scattered throughout a ribbon starting in the Yukon-Kukoskwim Delta north of Bethel stretching across through Central Interior with a cluster appearing north of the Mat-Su Valley. On Sunday, that area was expanded to the Canadian border as rain storms moved through the Fairbanks area in the afternoon.

Map of the more than 2,000 lightning strikes throughout Alaska on May 31, 2020

Map of the more than 2,000 lightning strikes throughout Alaska on May 31, 2020
A load of eight smokejumpers and two water-scooping Fire Boss aircraft prepositioned Sunday for quicker response to fires in Western Alaska were dispatched to the Chiroskey River Fire (#123) outside Unalakleet shortly after arriving in Galena at about noon Sunday. Another airplane was helping guide the suppression efforts on the ground and the air. The roughly 20-person BLM AFS Midnight Sun Interagency Hotshots will head west from Fairbanks Monday for its first fire assignment of the year. The fire was reported by a Unalkakleet resident shortly after 10 a.m. The Chiroskey River Fire was burning in a limited management option area, but there are Native allotments nearby and a cabin within five miles of the fire. The fire area received a little bit of rain Sunday, boosting the efforts to get around the fire to stop if from growing larger than the estimated 64 acres Sunday night.

Meanwhile, eight smokejumpers were wrapping things up today on North Fork Fire (#122) located 15 miles northeast of Unalakleet. The smokejumpers mobilized Saturday evening and worked into the early morning hours to stop it from growing larger than 10 acres. The North Fork Fire was reported by BLM AFS personnel aboard a surveillance aircraft shortly after 9 p.m. Smokejumpers were expecting to have the fire contained Sunday night and demobilize on Monday.

Most of the new lightning-caused fires occurred in Western Alaska Saturday - five are within the Alaska Division of Forestry protection area in Southwest Alaska and three were located in the BLM AFS protection area. The sole human-caused fire on Saturday occurred when a structure fire in Anchor Point spread to grass and was quickly extinguished by firefighters.

BLM Alaska Fire Service will also keep an eye on a lightning-caused the Clear Creek Fire (#128) burning in the Tanana Flats Training Area about nine miles south of Fairbanks. Several members of the public reported seeing smoke from the fire burning in the Alpha Impact Area on U.S. Army Garrison lands Sunday. However, it is not threatening any structures or resources. BLM AFS personnel aboard a plane were able to fly over the fire earlier today and report it was about a quarter acre in size and burning in tundra and brush. Another flight is scheduled tonight to get another look at the fire and to scout for other new starts after lightning moved through the area Sunday.

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