The 2008 Alaska fire season will be remembered by most Alaska firefighters as slow, cool and damp. On the bright side, the wetter weather meant Alaskans were able to enjoy a relatively smoke-free summer. Alaska’s largest pre-season fire for 2008 started March 31 before the snow and ice had completely melted. It burned 206 acres. Unlike most years, firefighters were done with training and all fire aircraft were sitting on runways before there was significant fire activity. On May 19, the Homestead Fire started on the Kenai and within two days, 92 fire personnel were assigned. It was controlled and placed in monitor status on May 25, after burning a total of 260 acres. The next big firefighting effort wasn’t until June 24 when a fire that originated in the Venetie village dump jumped its containment line. Fortunately, the wind spread the fire away from town and towards Venetie Lake. At its peak, it was staffed with 162 firefighters. It was contained on July 4 at roughly 640 acres. Meanwhile, California was another story. A dry-lightning storm swept through the northern part of the state in late June and caused over 1,300 fire starts in a 72-hour period. The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center started dispatching Emergency Firefighter (EFF) crews to the Lower-48 on June 26, earlier than anyone can remember. By July 16, 706 Alaskans were on fires out of state, most in California. By the end of the summer, 35 EFF crews, all agency-sponsored crews, Alaska’s Type 1 Incident Management Team, and numerous other single resource firefighters had participated, even multiple times, in Lower-48 assignments. Several lightning-caused fires in limited fire management areas in Alaska, including Three Lakes and Blind Luck Fires, started and were allowed to run their natural course, but were monitored throughout the spring and summer. In July the Goose Slough Fire near Bettles started on July 8 and at its peak had 65 firefighters assigned, but was soon controlled. Other fires in July included the short-live
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