Minto Lakes fire

The Minto Lakes fire west of Fairbanks, Alaska.

ANCHORAGE — Alaska is burning this year in ways rarely or ever seen, from the largest wildfire in a typically mainly fireproof southwest region to a pair of blazes that ripped through forests and produced smoke that blew hundreds of miles to the the Bering Sea community of Nome, where the normally crystal clear air was pushed into the extremely unhealthy category.

Already more than 530 wildfires have burned an area the size of Connecticut and the usual worst of the fire season lays ahead. While little property has burned, some residents have been forced to evacuate and one person was killed — a helicopter pilot died last month when he crashed while attempting to carry a load of equipment for firefighters.

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