Temperatures have cooled in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta thanks to some rain, but the lightning that came with those storms has ignited 10 more fires in Southwest Alaska; others have grown. Those wildfires forced Donlin Gold to evacuate the rest of its employees from its mine site.
Wildfires have consumed nearly 2 million acres in Alaska so far this summer. In the Southwest part of the state, fires have scorched almost 500,000 acres in the past month. Alaska climatologist Rick Thoman says that this year fits into a trend of longer and more devastating wildfire seasons.
There have been 178 fires so far this summer in Alaska, and 58 of those are currently burning in the Southwest Region. While most of the fires are remote, a few are threatening communities on the Kuskokwim River and the proposed Donlin Gold mine site.
People living in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta felt something unusual this past holiday weekend: a heat wave. Temperatures crept close to 90 degrees in many parts of the region, including Bethel, but a malfunctioning thermometer and not enough data could prevent this summer from making it into the record books.
The fire danger may be too high in the rest of the state for Fourth of July fireworks, but not in Bethel and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. On Tuesday, July 2, the state lifted a ban on fireworks sales and use in Western Alaska.
If you are looking to light up the already sunlit sky for the Fourth of July, you are out of luck. Alaska officials have banned using and selling fireworks because hot, dry conditions throughout the state have made the risk of fires too great.