A line of thunderstorms moved through the area early Thursday morning brining some much needed rain, but also lightning. Rain was reported in the Big Delta area as early at 6 a.m. and the storm moved through bringing rain to the center of town before 8 a.m. The rain was heavy and fast moving. Accumulation was minimal.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for the area beginning at noon today and running through midnight Friday night for lightning. A red flag condition indicates weather and fuel conditions are suitable for the development of large and dangerous wildland fires.
Numerous lightning strikes have been reported in the area this morning.
Forestry crews are currently patrolling and checking lookout positions for fires that may have developed because of the lightning.
We have been fortunate with wildland fires in this area Michael Goyette, fire management officer with the Division of Forestry in Delta Junction said on Wednesday following the arrival of heavy smoke in the Delta Junction area.
“We have fires on all sides of the Interior right now,” Goyette said over the phone. “If the wind is blowing, we’re going to get the smoke.”
A forestry employee said in a Facebook post Wednesday night that the smoke currently in Delta Junction is from the Rainbow Lake 2 fire across the Delta River.
Due to the current weather conditions, the Division of Forestry has banned all outside burning. Only fires contained to approved burning devices are allowed, which includes grills and camp stoves.
“Given the number and size of wildfires currently burning in the state, Alaska’s fire managers ask residents and visitors to adhere to the restriction on campfires to help prevent any additional human-caused wildfires in the state,” the division wrote in the press release. “Firefighting resources are stretched extremely thin, and any new fires will put a further strain on the limited resources currently available to respond to new wildfire.”
The ban applies throughout the Delta area as well as in the Copper River Valley, Denali Borough, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Kenai Peninsula, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Municipality of Anchorage, and Tanana Valley.
While the Delta area still has a few fires smoldering, it is the major fires outside of town that are have been causing most of the smoke said Goyette. Locally, we still have two small fires on the bison field that are currently being monitored, as well as a Rainbow Lake 2 fire that has grown to an estimated 5,000 acres as of Tuesday. All of those fires were caused by lightning strikes.
The Rainbow Lake 2 fire is being monitored but is marked as low priority, as there are no structures being threatened. It’s currently slowly moving west towards Delta Creek on the far side of the Tanana River
The early season Oregon Lakes fire, which was once the state’s largest fire, is still burning, although not much. The fire is contained to the interior of what has already burned, so with little fuel to keep it going, the Alaska Fire Service flies over the area every few days to keep an eye on it until it is out. The Oregon Lake fire is on monitored status with limited fire activity.
Dawn Brown contributed to this article.