Alaska Sends Crews to Fight Fires in Lower 48

Montana, Idaho and Oregon among states receiving aid from up north

By Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Several Alaska fire crews have been sent to help battle blazes in other parts of the western U.S. as the state’s fire season winds down.

Alaska fire spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said five 20-person crews from across the state are assisting firefighters near Idaho City, Idaho, where a fire has covered about 76 square miles. The Chena Hot Shot Crew also is working on a fire in Montana, while the Midnight Sun and Pioneer Peak crews are in Oregon.

Ipsen said additional crews from Alaska’s villages could be deployed if fire season in the Lower 48 continues to intensify, KTUU-TV reported.

Alaska’s fire season peaks earlier in the year than in other parts of the country, which puts the state in a position to aid in areas where there’s a higher need.

“We can send (crews) to help out with the Lower 48 because wildland fire relies heavily upon interagency cooperation,” Ipsen said. Likewise, smokejumpers and hotshot crews from the Lower 48 come to Alaska’s aid before their fire seasons picks up, she said.

So far this season, Alaska has had 521 fires, covering about 780 square miles. That is less damage than the state’s yearly average of 1,500 acres to 3,000 acres, Ipsen said. About 80 fires currently are burning in the state, Ipsen said.