Firefighters from across the Great Lakes region are leaving today to help battle fires burning in central Alaska.
Tom Fasteland, a coordinator with the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids, said dry weather in Alaska has helped fuel massive fires around Fairbanks, and officials there have asked other states to mobilize their firefighters.
"Five crews are flying out of the Duluth mobilization center," he said. "Two of those are from Minnesota. We have two from Wisconsin and one from the Upper Peninsula."
The Minnesota firefighters come from the Department of Natural Resources, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies.
The fires they're going to fight have recently burned more than 500,000 acres in Alaska, and the Fairbanks airport was closed yesterday because of smoke.
"They've got some very large country and they tend to get very big fires," Fasteland said. "They're in remote areas, and a lot of times they just drop crews and let them work on or just monitor the fire."