Thunderstorms have moved through the Willow area where the 7,500 acre Sockeye Fire continues to burn, and lightning strikes have complicated firefighting efforts, igniting at least two more fires within 20 miles of the original fire fire officials say. By 8 pm on Tuesday evening, the Alaska Division of Forestry had already received reports of two lightning-ignited fires and smoke reports.
FEMA officials report almost 30 residential structures have gone up in flames since the fire was first reported on Sunday and as many as 100 other structures may have been claimed by the fast-moving fire.
While the blaze’s exact cause is yet to be determined, fire officials believe that the fire was caused by humans. They report that there were no lightning strikes in the area where the fire was first reported.
Neighbors in the area have reported to troopers that the property where the fire is believed to have ignited, was the scene of all night Saturday night fireworks. The last of the fireworks were heard just prior to the fire being sighted neighbors in the area report. Soon after, the people on the property left the area.
The State Fire Marshal’s office is continuing the investigation into the fire’s cause and has visited the scene on West Sockeye Avenue on Tuesday.
Meteorologists are calling for more dry weather at least through this week and the Mat-Su Borough has issued emergency bans barring all open fires in the borough.