Alaska's heat wave fuels dangerous smoke, melts glaciers

(Reuters News, 1 Jul 2019) Record warmth and near-record warmth in most of the state has created flammable conditions from the Canadian border in the east to the Bering Sea coast in the west.

Alaska's heat wave is driving wildfires and melting glaciers, choking the state's biggest cities with smoke and bloating rivers with meltwater.

In Anchorage, home to about 40 percent of Alaskans, the National Weather Service issued a dense smoke advisory on Sunday warning against prolonged outdoor activity, along with advisories for the elderly and the sick to stay indoors.

The culprit is the Swan Lake wildfire to the south in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, which has burned since a June 5 lightning strike and consumed more than 68,000 acres, fire managers said.

To the north, in Fairbanks, fire officials ordered evacuations in two areas and told residents in a third to be prepared to leave because of the Shovel Creek Fire, which had grown to 5,568 acres by Sunday.

"People should GO, evacuate NOW. Leave immediately. DO NOT delay leaving," the evacuation order said.

In all, there were 354 wildfires covering 443,211 acres in Alaska as of Sunday morning, according to state and federal fire managers.

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Reuters News, 1 Jul 2019: Alaska's heat wave fuels dangerous smoke, melts glaciers