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Alaska wildfires causing problems; largest now size of Chicago

Alaska just experienced the second-hottest June in state history. That's according to NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information, which issues climate recaps each month for the United States.

And July hasn't been much better. Several towns and cities across the state set record highs on July 4th. Some locations even reached their hottest temperature ever recorded. 

The heat isn't the only big weather story out of Alaska, though. Combined with dry air and thunderstorms, the heat has supported numerous wildfires state-wide.

Current Alaskan wildfires as of July 9th. Alaska Interagency Coordination Center
As of July 9th, there are 118 fires across the state that are either active, smoldering or in the process of being demobilized. That's according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center

They haven't threatened many populated areas, but the smoke from the fires is creating visibility and air quality problems. That includes Anchorage and Fairbanks.

Fairbanks, Alaska, as seen on July 7th. NWS Fairbanks
In fact, Dense Smoke Advisories have been in effect for several days across Alaska with visibilities dropping below two miles at times.

The largest of the wildfires is the Hess Creek Fire, which has burned a total of 145,321 acres according to the latest update from the Alaska Wildland Fire Information website.

That is the size of Chicago, or nearly six times larger than the area of South Bend! It is also the largest wildfire burning in the United States.

The Hess Creek Fire. Alaska Wildland Fire Information Interagency Website
It is located north of Fairbanks in the central part of the state. It was started by a lightning strike on June 21st and is 0% contained, according to the latest update. Over the coming days, the weather is expected to improve across a vast majority of the state.

Lower temperatures and chances for showers and thunderstorms are a good bet by later in the week and beyond.

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