2004 Wildland Fire Season Summary
The Alaskan summer of 2004 was unusual. It was the warmest and the third driest summer on record, the most lightning strikes were recorded, wildland fires burned the largest acreage in recorded Alaska history, and smoke drifted over much of the state during the summer. Smoke concentrations were often in the "Unhealthy," "Very Unhealthy," and "Hazardous" ranges.
Wildfire smoke is a mixture of gas and tiny bits of matter, called particulate matter. It is made up of a number of components, including acids, organic chemicals, metals, soil or dust particles, and allergens (such as fragments of pollen or mold spores). Small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even get into your bloodstream. Exposure to such particles can affect both your lungs and your heart.
How bad was the air in Fairbanks the summer of 2004?
A particulate monitor in downtown Fairbanks captured the local PM 2.5 levels (those particles 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less).
24 hour Average PM 2.5 Particulate Levels, Summer of 2004, Fairbanks, AK
Fairbanks Hourly PM 2.5 Particulate Levels Summer of 2004, Fairbanks, AK
DEC issued Air Quality Alerts and Advisories between June 28 and September 17, 2004. The Fairbanks / Interior area received the first alerts. The alerts were later issued statewide as harmful levels of smoke drifted over larger areas of the state, and new fires started in other regions. Persons with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children were most at risk from particulates. Cooler, wetter weather and changing winds moved smoke out of most communities in mid-September.
Facts from the Alaska Interagency Fall Fire Review of the 2004 Fire Season (as of May 17, 2005):
Links to other information: