Five Million Acres of Alaska Wildfire Growth

Alaska is on track to break 2004’s record for the most acres burned. Nearly 700 fires have been started by lightening storms or humans.

The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center serves as a clearinghouse for the many agencies that are responsible for tracking and fighting fires across the state and has a wealth of GIS data. This animation visualizes the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center’s measured perimeters for late June through July 18th.

Tools: QGIS 2.4, Time Manager, OpenLayers plugin, GoPro Studio.

Data: AICC, Google.

Note: Data are incomplete and do not perfectly correspond to fire activity on the display date. This is for experimental purposes only.

Aniak Complex Battles Massive Middle Kuskokwim Fires

Alaska is on track to break its all-time record for acres burned in a fire season. The southwest portion of the state has experienced the same dry conditions that caused the state to flare up with lightening storms rolled through in June. I had a chance to visit the “Aniak Complex” recently. As the state battles more than 300 fires, they’ve stationed crew leaders in remote areas to battle clusters of fires. I reported on the efforts for KYUK. It was largely an audio project, but I was able to get some interesting footage while traveling.


Alaska Wildfires Visualization

Over a million acres have burned in Alaska this year. Low snowpack and the low meltwater that followed were hammered with a persistent high pressure system that baked the spruce forest and tundra to tinder. A series of thunderstorms was all it took to light Alaska on fire.

This map shows the cumulative discovery dates of Alaska’s wildfires during the month of June.

NOTES: This data does not capture the “out dates” for the fires. This simply shows in sequence the 403 fires that have been documented this month.

Data: Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

Alaska’s Fires From Space – 6/24/15

Close to 300 fires are burning in Alaska right now.


This MODIS imagery was processed at about 4 p.m. Alaska time on June 24th.

Yes, that’s a lot of smoke.

Here is a sketch of the 278 fires that managers tallied as of Wednesday evening. The number changes constantly.


NASA’s MODIS instrument has good temporal resolution and provides valuable thermal data as well as RGB truecolor, among other data.

It gets messy trying to show the more than 400,000 acres that have burned in 545 fires this year. This image went viral for the Alaska DNR / Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.


Credit: Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

Here is my version of a tribute to that image:

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 11.18.36 PM

That’s a little too much. I’m going to try to focus a bit on a few areas of interest to my region. 66 fires are burning in southwest Alaska.


The regional hub and my home Bethel is full of smoke and in sight range of a fire northeast of town, but has largely avoided any close calls.


You can see the fires, however.

As you move up the Kuskokwim River into the hot, dry interior, things change. Aniak and Crooked Creek have fires nearby. Kalskag has seen over 40,000 acres burn (and reignite after crews left) in the Whitefish Lake and Bogus Creek fires.


The Lime Village region also burned extensively in 2013.

The Lime Village region is very prone to burning.

Fires intensify further east in the interior. Tanana is surrounded by fire.


On the Yukon, Nulato evacuated by boat to Galena earlier this week.


Above the Arctic Circle near the Canadian boarder, the smoke swirled.


Not even the Lower Yukon got a break.

lower yukon

Be safe and find more information from the experts who are keeping the state safe. Huge thanks to the firefighters. They are stretched very thin.

DATA: Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, GINA, NASA, US Census Bureau. Maps compiled in QGIS 2.4.

Wildfire Smoke Plume Timelapse

Alaska is in the midst of an intense wildfire season. A massive high pressure system has brought bright sun and hot winds: the recipe for fast-spreading wildfires. On June 20th, I captured a brief time lapse video of smoke visible from the northern edge of Bethel. The nearest fire is the Fog River fire, located several miles east of Akiak. The much larger Whitefish Lake fire lies to the north of that blaze.