2005 Wildland Fire Season Summary
"They" said it would not happen again in 2005 since 2004 was a record breaking season of wildland fires in Alaska. "They" said fire seasons like 2004 happen about every 50 years - 1957 was the largest fire season before 2004. After the fire season of 2005, we know "They" were wrong.... At 4.7 million acres, the fire season of 2005 is ranked third in the Alaskan record books. The 1957 fire season, at 5.06 million acres, is ranked second.
Why was 2005 another large fire season? In Interior Alaska, much of the August precipitation was 50% to 75% less than normal; August 2005 was the driest August in Fairbanks in 101 years. Record lightning and lightning fires occurred on the Kenai Peninsula. There were 19 lightning fires in 2005 while there were 25 lightning fires from 1985 to 2004. Approximately 3 million acres burned during August - over 60% of the total acreage burned in 2005.
Smoke again drifted over much of the state during the summer and early fall. The worst smoke concentrations in the Fairbanks area were in mid-August. However, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, public issues and concerns were not as prevalent in 2005 as in 2004 due to fire locations and weather patterns.
How bad was the air in Fairbanks the summer of 2005?
A particulate monitor in downtown Fairbanks captured the local PM2.5 levels (particulate matter with a diameter 2.5 micrometers or less). Local 2005 particulate levels from wildland fires improved over 2004 levels. However, levels were still not in the "GOOD" air quality category.
24 hour Average PM2.5 Particulate Levels: Summer of 2005, Fairbanks, AK (updated chart coming)
Fairbanks Hourly PM2.5 Particulate Levels: Summer of 2005, Fairbanks, AK
DEC issued Air Quality Alerts and Advisories between June 20 and August 31, 2005. 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. Cooler, wetter weather and changing winds moved smoke out of most communities in mid-September. Persons with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children were most at risk from particulates.
Facts from the Alaska Interagency Fall Fire Review of the 2005 Fire Season and from the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center (as of February 27, 2005):
Links to other information: