by Phillip Manning ~ June 26th, 2013
As of the afternoon of June 26th, 103 wildfires are currently burning in Alaska. Among those are three new fires ignited by lightning in Denali National Park. According to Public Information Officer Kris Fister, two of those fires are near infrastructure inside the park. The Xerxes (zerk-seas) Fire is one-and-a-half miles east of Wonder Lake and very near the Park Road. The Brooker Mountain Fire is three miles southwest of Camp Denali and two-and-a-half-miles from the Kantishna Airstrip.
Due to the proximity of structures and people, rapid-response teams were sent to the area to contain the fires, including a number of aircraft and smokejumpers. A total of nine smokejumpers responded as planes dumped water they had scooped from Wonder Lake onto the fires. The fires have been reported secure, but the teams have remained in the area to ensure that they stay extinguished.
Fister says that the Park Service and Alaska in general are very fortunate to have the hotshot teams and smokejumpers from around the country during this hot, dry summer. With thunderstorms possible in the forecast, more lightning strikes could mean more fires throughout the state.