Alaska is huge. Like, super huge. We have lots of fires burning all summer, every summer and usually the plan is to let them burn. They are healthy for our forests: plant and animal life. Usually most are slow rollers, hanging out underground for a while, popping up to eat some trees… they are dangerous, but generally left alone to burn out.
We also, in most of Alaska, are used to some pretty mild temperatures and weather. To have the temps climb into the 70’s is insane. A week worth of highs into the 80’s is unheard of. I can remember most of the times it has been in 80’s (in our area)because it is so rare.
So you take people who aren’t used to the extreme dry we’ve had (lack of snow, hardly any rain), an attitude of ‘that won’t happen to me’, mixed in with what must be stupidity… and what do you get? A raging, uncontrolled fire in one of the few populated areas in our State.
In 12 hours the fire has consumed over 6500 acres and destroyed 45 structures. It’s spreading towards more homes, cabins and lives. The area it is in has is a popular recreational area with hundreds of family cabins, dog mushers and families.
Last night I watched my Facebook blow up with friends who are watering down their properties hoping to make a difference in the fate of their memories and dreams. Watching videos of the devastation unfolding… pictures of homes on fire, the highway consumed with flames on either side, firefighters trying to defend homes… and hoping this is the only night I’ll be glued to the computer for updates.
My husband was stuck waiting for the highway to reopen so he could get up to work. The fire is surrounding the highway making travel, at times, impossible. When they started running pilot cars through the fire around 2am, he left to try and make it through. Hearing him report that it was ‘bad’ was a big deal as he’s usually very sound and calm about tough situations.
What happens next? More homes will be lost. The communities are coming together to relocate people, pets, whatever belongings they can gather. Donations are being rounded up to help those displaced. Strangers driving from hours away to loan trailers, kennels, tents, etc. It’s amazing how so much stupidity can create so much destruction, but also love and kindness.
Keep us in your prayers as this battle blazes on. Our cabin is about 35 miles from the north end of the fire… But my son says ‘today will be a good day’, so I’ll put some faith in that.