Anchorage woke up to a smokey haze that is covering the city, and may end up covering it for most of the day or even the weekend; but compared to much of the Kenai Peninsula we shouldn’t be complaining. Due to the dry weather the last month, wildfires have been a problem with some popping up in different areas around south central Alaska. On Monday, a fire started outside of Soldotna – a town approximately 50 miles as the crow flies from Anchorage. Now, the fire called the “Funny River Fire” has consumed 44,000 acres and while not currently threatening any homes, it is putting up a lot of smoke. The area lies on a swampy flats between the Kenai Mountains and the Cook Inlet — meaning smoke from that fire is either going to head south down the Peninsula towards Homer & Kodiak, or North to Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley.
Additionally, a smaller fire called the “Tyonek Fire” which is across the Cook Inlet to the west and closer (about 30 miles as the crow flies). It is smaller, but still has already consumed 1500 acres and threatens the small village of Beluga.
This morning, the winds are blowing north – so the whole of the city is covered in smoke. Not to mention smells like a campfire, and the air quality is pretty horrid. I taste the ash constantly. I am still coming off a cold, and my sinuses are plugged and am still coughing some — this is NOT helping. My eyes burn somewhat, and I feel like my lips are gritty. What I keep telling myself is that this is only mildly uncomfortable and must be absolutely hellish for anyone who suffers from asthma or more sensitive to the smoke. Also, I keep thinking that if it is this bad here, it must be unbearable down in Soldotna.
Rumor is the winds will turn to the south later today, which should blow the smoke away. It’s not known when the fire will be contained as fire fighters are struggling to get to the Funny River fire both because the bulk of the fire is well off the road system and they are having a hard time mapping it. There’s some chance of rain this weekend, which would be a huge help, but no one is really sure of that now. So in the meantime, we wait, smell the smoke, and make campfire jokes.