Derrick Miskinis, KSRM News Group
The 182,000-acre fire—an area bigger than Chicago—has scorched part of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

Alaska Wildfire Burns 182,000 Acres, Bigger Than Chicago, on Kenai Peninsula


Fire continued to sweep the Kenai Peninsula on May 27, surpassing 182,000 acres, an area larger than Chicago.

One evacuation advisory was lifted as rain aided firefighters, but the blaze continued to grow as 670 personnel battled it, though the evacuation of 1,000 other structures was still in effect. The fire was 30 percent contained as of May 27, reported InciWeb, the federal Information Incident System that monitors and issues updates on wildfires.

“The fire received .03–.06 inches of rain overnight,” said InciWeb. “The weather forecast is calling for continued rain throughout the day and additional precipitation until the end of the week. The cooler and wetter weather will help slow fire activity and assist firefighters in efforts to contain the fire. Several consecutive days of appreciable moisture are needed to alter the overall fire activity.”

About 1,000 structures, including homes, were ordered evacuated on Sunday May 25, the Associated Press reported. The fire, caused by human error, began on May 19 within the 1.9 million-acre Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, the AP said.

On Monday May 27 the flames leaped across the 300-foot-wide Kenai River, according to the Alaska Dispatch, making light of what had been considered a natural fire barrier.

An unseasonably warm spring is contributing to the dryness that enabled the blaze to spread so rapidly, the Weather Channel reported. Firefighters from Alaska, Oregon, Canada, Montana and the Alaska Air National Guard were battling the conflagration, the Weather Channel said.

The winds had dropped to nearly nothing by Tuesday morning, and though the light rain did not stanch the flames, it added needed humidity that helped firefighters get a handle on some of the hot spots, the Alaska Dispatch said.

“Everybody’s talking about it,” said local fire department spokesman Brad Nelson to the Alaska Dispatch, of the welcome rain. “It’ll make a huge impact.”

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