Local News

Dry weather increases fire danger on the Tongass

The U.S. Forest Service is asking people to be careful with camp fires as hot, dry weather blankets the Tongass National Forest this summer.

Seth Ross, acting fire management officer on the Tongass, said fire danger has been high for central and southern parts of the forest. “Down in the Kake area its been very dry down there and then some of the fire danger ratings, we use that term, are very high at this point in clear-cut fuel models. We measure a few different types of fuel models out there and then one that reflects the clear-cut activity is showing very high. And then across the boards on the south end of the forest especially are showing very high and a high fire danger.”

Ross said it’s a little different story on the northern end of the forest where fire danger has been moderate. However, he expects this week’s sunny skies should put the entire forest at high fire danger levels. So far, about 15 fires have been reported on the Tongass this year, including five or six this week. Typically the Tongass totals about 20 or 25 fires a year during the warmer, drier months.

Ross said two fires were active on Wednesday, one near Sitka by Sitkoh Lake and another south of Kake. “The one down by Kake may be a little bit bigger than we’re usually experiencing here,” Ross said. It may have been kindof there and the hot weather has gotten it and it usually digs down deep and sometimes it doesn’t look as large as it is when you get there. That one may be a little bit larger than usual. And usually we’re less than a quarter acre for our fires here but that one may be pushing just about that threshold.”

As of Wednesday, the forest had not implemented any restrictions for people camping in the forest or companies logging and doing other work. That could change by Thursday, August 1 with restrictions for industrial work possible if the dry weather persists.

“I’m mostly advising people to you know please enjoy the beautiful woods that we have but you know if they are gonna have campfires just to please be careful with that and just be careful with fire in general. You know until we see the weather change, which I understand may be this weekend,” Ross said.

Campers are asked not to leave fires unattended and should extinguish coals completely.

Recent News

PHS cross country opens season on winning note

Petersburg High School cross country teams finished the first meet of the season in Sitka on Saturday in the top two for small schools in Southeast. The PHS girls team came in first for 1A-2A and 3A schools, finishing behind only the 4A schools in Juneau and Ketchikan. The boys team was the second place small school. The Sitka boys won on their home course, followed by Juneau-Douglas, Thunder Mountain and Ketchikan. more

Heavy rain sets daily records in Petersburg, Southeast

Petersburg and other parts of Southeast set some daily rainfall records last week. Petersburg recorded over three and a half inches of rain, 3.55 to be exact on Saturday, August 29th, the highest total for that date in National Weather Service records dating back to the 1940s. more