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Alaska Pagan Community Center Destroyed by Sockeye Wildfire

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A Pagan community center in the Sockeye region of Alaska has completely burned down in a wildfire. The community center consisted of over nine acres of woods with four cabins, and is now considered a total loss. Center Director Anthony Bailey said clean up efforts are underway, and he is asking for financial assistance to help rebuild the center. The Alaska Pagan Community Center, more commonly known as The Land, is located near Willow. It opened about five years ago as a non-profit nature sanctuary and Pagan retreat. Volunteers cleared areas for camping, built the cabins, created a pump and well house, and built shaded areas for workshops and classes. Because community members had to evacuate so quickly, they were unable to take tools and equipment, such as generators, with them. The entire nine acres of trees were also burned in the blaze. Bailey said that the rebuilding has already begun. “Today we were able to return to the land and begin our cleanup and recovery efforts. We spent a long, tiring day salvaging what we could and trying to clear out anything that was unsalvageable. Bailey noted that, while the local Pagan community has been turning out to physically help, they need funds to help rebuild, “It’s difficult to express the pain I feel at the loss of so much financial investment but also the loss of hard won progress our community had labored together to gain these last five years.” He said that any donations made to the GoFundMe account will be directly used to make community center and retreat capable of meeting the needs of the Pagan community again. Donations for the Alaska Pagan Community Center can be made here. The wildfire near Willow is just one of roughly 300 fires still burning in Alaska. A particularly fierce blaze. it is called the Sockeye Fire, and has destroyed 55 homes and damaged many more in addition to the community center. The total area affected by the over 300 fires is roughly 624,000 acres. Blogger Peter Dybing, a Pagan first responder, was recently sent to Alaska as part of his mundane job to help fight the fires. He is assisting with the wildfires in the Fairbanks area. Dybing said that Alaska has more firefighters responding now than at any time in its history. “Firefighters from the lower 48 are struggling with extreme fire behavior, sleep disruption due to 24 hour daylight and rapidly changing fire conditions.” Dybing said that the Alaska fires are unique. “With tundra duff up to 18 inches deep, rain can make a fire appear to be out, yet just a few hours of sun and the fire roars back to life. Much of this is complicated by the disappearance of permafrost that normally is at about the 10 inch level. Global climate change has taken a toll on the fire environment in Alaska.” While there has been speculation that the Sockeye fire was started by neighbors of The Land, authorities still haven’t said conclusively if the fire was set deliberately or accidentally.

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1 Korin Robinson = "Cara Schulz is a journalist and author living in Minnesota with her husband and cat. She has previously written for PAGAN+politics, PNC-Minnesota, and Patheos. Her work has appeared in several books by Bibliotheca Alexandrina and she's the author of Martinis & Marshmallows: A Field Guide to Luxury Tent Camping and (Almost) Foolproof Mead Making. She loves red wine, camping, and has no tattoos."
2 Korin Robinson = "The fire was discovered as a 2-acre blaze on June 14, after a local resident called 9-1-1 to report heavy smoke in a heavily wooded area near Willow, along the Parks Highway. Dry conditions in the area along with the prevailing winds caused the fire to quickly spread. By the morning of Monday, June 15, the fire had grown to over 6,500 acres, and had destroyed 40–45 structures, roughly half of which were primary homes occupied by local residents, with the other half being described as "secondary structures". Local schools and churches were used as emergency shelters.[5] In addition to Willow, air quality has been affected in the communities of Nancy LakeHouston, and Big Lake.[9]The Sockeye Fire has impacted the sled dog teams living in the area, with as many as 4,500 dogs moved away from the impacted areas. Other sled dogs, owned by local participants of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and other mushing events, perished in the fire. A local kennel owned by veteran Iditarod musher DeeDee Jonrowe was destroyed. Jonrowe also lost her home, several pets and a flock of chickens in the fire.[10] At least six dogs are known to have perished in the fire.[11]"