From introduction: 'Most forest communities in interior Alaska have been extensively influenced by recurring fire. To a large extent, the distribution of the dominant tree species has been shaped by fire. First-time visitors are often struck by the small-scale mosaic of forest types (white spruce, aspen, and paper birch) they observe on some sites in interior Alaska. Fire, working in the context of the influence of soil and topography, is most influential in the distribution of these forest types. This is a brief overview of some of the recent findings about the role of fire in the forests of interior Alaska. The discussion is not detailed or exhaustive: these treatments are available in some excellent reviews. The reader desiring a more detailed treatment of the general topic is directed to Viereck (1973), Viereck and Schandelmeirer (1980), Van Cleve and Viereck (1981), and Viereck (1983).