Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features south-central and southwest Alaska, where an unusually active fire season continues.
“On June 4-5, 2022, thunderstorms moved across, delivering nearly 5,000 lightning strikes and igniting dozens of wildfires,” says NASA. “As of June 14, 2022, there were 85 active fires burning across the state.”
On May 31, a lightning strike ignited a fire in the Yukon Delta, the East Fork fire, which has now become the largest tundra fire on record.
“Northerly winds drove the East Fork fire within about 3.5 miles (6 kilometers) of the village of St. Mary’s,” reports NASA. “Although no mandatory evacuation orders were issued, residents of St. Mary’s, and the nearby Yukon River villages of Mountain Village, Pitkas Point, and Pilot Station – all of which can be reached only by boat or plane – were encouraged to voluntarily relocate.”
“On June 13, the wind shifted and allowed firefighters to attack the western edge of the fire. The firefighters were supported by ‘scooper’ aircraft dropping water, and by drones dropping ping-pong sized plastic balls that ignite to burn vegetation and create fire breaks.”
By mid-June, 250 wildfires had already burned more than 770,000 acres, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center. This is more than the 30-year average of 600,000 acres burned over the course of the entire wildfire season.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory