Wildfire is a major concern in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) of all three communities, which are surrounded by flammable spruce forests mixed with deciduous and alpine vegetation.

Over the past two decades the frequency and size of wildfires have increased in Alaska and the Yukon. That coupled with the expansion of homes into the wildland urban interface (WUI) has increased wildfire risk in many communities. In the last decade, MOA and FNSB have had large fires within their boundaries, while Whitehorse has been described as “at the edge of a blowtorch”.

Smoke rises from a wildfire on the east side of Anchorage, Alaska on July 2nd, 2019.

Photo used with permission, Photo by Jason Jordet/Alaska Division of Forestry

A wildfire burned 25 acres on the east side of Anchorage, Alaska's most populous city, on July 2nd, 2019.

Heavy smoke significantly reduces visibility of Fairbanks.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Byrd.

Wildfire smoke reducing the air quality in Fairbanks.

This collection of 15 graphs shows a drastic change in vegetation in Fairbanks after a major fire in 2004. Woodland and forest shrink and types linked to sparse vegetation increase.

This figure shows the change in vegetation within our Fairbanks study area (FNSB) from 1984 through 2014. Note the large influence of the 2004 fire season on vegetation composition. The data is from the ABoVE: Landsat-derived Annual Dominant Land Cover Across ABoVE Core Domain, 1984-2014.