Timely rains help Alaska to a mild wildfire season so far

    Wildfires burned an area larger than Massachusetts in Alaska last year but the state is nowhere near that for 2016.

    Timely rains help Alaska to a mild wildfire season so far


    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Wildfires burned an area larger than Massachusetts in Alaska last year but the state is nowhere near that for 2016.

    Last year saw 7,969 square miles, or 5.1 million acres, scorched.

    As of Wednesday morning, just 217 square miles, or fewer than 139,000 acres, have burned in 2016.

    Tim Mowry of the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center says firefighters have responded quickly to limit fires.

    But he says weather is the main reason for the big difference.

    Alaska survived a dry Memorial Day Weekend without a huge fire.

    Since then, the state has lacked extended dry periods and hot weather has been followed by low pressure systems with precipitation.

    Mowry says 2015 was much drier. It also included a memorable week in June when 60,000 lightning strikes lit 295 fires.

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