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Denali National Park to reopen about a week after rare wildfire started outside entrance, officials say

<i>National Park Service/AP via CNN Newsource</i><br/>This photo provided by the National Park Service shows a wildfire burning about a mile north of Denali National Park and Preserve
National Park Service/AP via CNN Newsource
This photo provided by the National Park Service shows a wildfire burning about a mile north of Denali National Park and Preserve

By Jillian Sykes and Dalia Faheid, CNN

(CNN) — A popular national park in Alaska will reopen Wednesday after a rare wildfire near the park’s entrance was reported last week, officials said.

Evacuation orders for Denali National Park and Preserve also were being lifted after being issued July 1 as crews battled the Riley Fire, park officials said.

The park, which had been closed for about a week, will reopen to the public at 4:30 a.m. local time Wednesday, the National Park Service said in a news release.

The wildfire, which was first reported June 30, had burned 432 acres and was 96% contained as of Tuesday, park officials said. Firefighters were using aerial bucket drops to cool remaining hot spots, according to the park service.

More than 600,000 people visit the park every year, with most visiting in the summer, according to the National Park Service.

The fire is extremely rare for that area because an active fire hadn’t been there for 100 years, park officials told CNN.

The blaze ignited as the nation grappled with extreme heat – the deadliest form of weather globally and one that makes wildfires more likely and destructive.

The cause of the fire is unknown, and a fire investigator will investigate, park officials said. The National Park Service said it is requesting information from anyone who may have witnessed the initial stages of the Riley Fire on June 30.

The Riley Fire was one of 39 large wildfires burning across Alaska on Tuesday, spanning more 460,000 acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The Alaska wildfire season typically begins in late May and ends in late July, according to the National Park Service. On average, 1 million acres burn statewide every year, the park service says.

CNN’s Amanda Musa contributed to this report.

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