- Associated Press - Sunday, May 4, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Fire officials are projecting “above normal” potential wildfire danger in early summer in much of Alaska.

A warm April and thin snowpack are contributing to the higher-than-normal risk, the Daily News-Miner reported Sunday (https://is.gd/0wH5yy). There’s also early melt-off in many areas. Those two factors boost fire danger in May.

Officials say May fires are largely preventable, unlike midsummer when most blazes are caused by lightning strikes.

As of Sunday, the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center reported 66 fires in the state covering nearly 1,800 acres. Nearly all of the acres that have burned were part of six prescribed fires.

Early prescribed fire areas near Delta Junction have shown higher than expected fire activity in live fuels, adding to the potential danger, the center said.

A handful of small fires were sparked during live-fire training at Fort Wainwright, but those blazes were put out immediately.

Sharon Alder, a fire weather meteorologist with the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, said the long-range forecast includes an “above normal” projection for June. Fire potential is expected to return to normal in July and August.

Alder said rainfall will determine how the late season progresses. Rains typically thwart fire activity at the end of summer, but a delay in those rains could extend the fire season by a month or more.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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