Alaska Has 10 Wildfires Burning Right Now, With One Expected to Last Until Winter

alaska wildfire
A smoke plume from the McKinley Fire is seen along the Parks Highway near Willow, Alaska.Maureen Clark/AP / Shutterstock

Alaska is a real hot spot right now, though not for the reasons you might expect. Of the 54 wildfires currently burning in the United States, 10 are located in Alaska—more than any other state, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The largest, Swan Lake Fire, has consumed over 141,000 acres, but the smaller McKinley Fire has proven to be especially destructive. The blaze has already torched 80 structures and partially closed the highway leading from Anchorage to Denali National Park, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

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The fires have been helped by dry, hot conditions in Alaska this summer. The McKinley Fire covers 3,752 acres and is currently at 10 percent containment, with 273 firefighters working to extinguish it, according to an update from the Alaska Wildland Fire Information service. Teams of firefighters are using bulldozers, drones, planes, and helicopters to stop the spread of the fire. Residents of the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, where the fire is located, have been ordered to evacuate, and over 1,000 structures are still threatened by the flames, CNN reports.

The cause of the McKinley Fire is still being investigated, though it was initially thought to be sparked by a tree blown into a power line. Despite the firefighters’ efforts, officials don’t expect the blaze to be extinguished until this winter, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

“Not when it rains, when it snows,” Kale Casey, a spokesman for the team that’s coordinating fire operations, told the Daily News.

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Nationwide, data from the National Interagency Fire Center shows that fires are raging in 12 other states. Altogether, hundreds of thousands of acres are currently burning across the U.S., including 24 uncontained large fires.

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