Shovel Creek Fire grows to 900 acres; community meeting tonight in Goldstream Valley

The Alaska Incident Management Team will host a community meeting for the Shovel Creek Fire (#319) on Wednesday, June 26 beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Ken Kunkel Community Center pavilion (2645 Goldstream Road, Fairbanks AK). The incident management team will provide an update on the current fire situation and be available to answer questions from the community. Additionally, Fairbanks North Star Borough Emergency Operations will share resources and recommendations for the public.

A smoke column rises from the Shovel Creek Fire Tuesday afternoon, June 25, 2019 as viewed from atop Murphy Dome northwest of Fairbanks. Photo by Sarah Saarloos/Alaska Division of Forestry

A smoke column rises from the Shovel Creek Fire Tuesday afternoon, June 25, 2019 as viewed from atop Murphy Dome northwest of Fairbanks. Photo by Sarah Saarloos/Alaska Division of Forestry

On Tuesday, weather conditions contributed to an increase in fire activity on the Shovel Creek Fire. Firefighters continued to engage in full suppression operations building direct containment lines around the fire’s perimeter. Crews installed water pumps and hoses near the structures most immediately threatened by the fire on the south side of the Chatanika River, in the event that they are needed. The fire is currently more than 1 mile away from the nearest structures. Structure assessments continued in other areas along the Chatanika River to the north and west of the fire, as well as five residential subdivisions south and east of the fire.

Pockets of fuel burning inside previously deployed retardant lines created several spot fires outside the fire’s perimeter on Tuesday afternoon. Tactical firefighting aircraft were used to contain the known spot fires, and firefighters on the ground continued working to contain the spot fires into the evening. The fire is currently 908 acres and 0 percent contained, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry. There are 237 personnel working on the fire.

On Wednesday, crews will continue direct attack supported with tactical aircraft in order to increase containment of the fire. Existing trails will be used as containment lines on the east side of the fire. Firefighters will initiate limited burnouts to remove unburned fuel between the fire and the established containment lines. Firefighters have identified alternative containment lines to the east of the fire, and will use dozers to begin constructing those lines from Murphy Dome to the Chatanika River on Wednesday. Crews will also continue implementing precautionary structure protection actions in the fire area.

Fairbanks are residents are asked to avoid the Murphy Dome area due to the firefighting activity and the potential for interfering with fire personnel. Photo by Sarah Saarloos/Alaska Division of Forestry

Fairbanks are residents are asked to avoid the Murphy Dome area due to the firefighting activity and the potential for interfering with fire personnel. Photo by Sarah Saarloos/Alaska Division of Forestry

The incident management team will continue to coordinate with Fairbanks North Star Borough to plan for any potential public evacuation needs. The communities of Martin subdivision, McCloud subdivision, Murphy subdivision, Lincoln Creek subdivision, Perfect Perch Drive, and the Chatanika River corridor remain in Level 1 (Ready) evacuation status. Level 1 evacuation status is not an evacuation order; rather it is a notice that residents should be ready for a potential evacuation.

Firefighters monitored the Nugget Creek Fire from the air on Tuesday afternoon. They observed minimal fire activity mainly consisting of slow moving surface fire on approximately 40 percent of the fire’s perimeter. Additionally, a 10-person firefighting module began assessments of structures and other values at risk in the area on Tuesday. The fire, burning in a Limited Protection Area approximately 35 miles east of Fairbanks, is currently 658 acres.

The Nugget Creek Fire will continue to be monitored from the air and ground on Wednesday. Firefighters will continue to identify and assess values at risk in the area, and inform the public of ongoing recreational area closures due to the fire activity. The incident management team will continue to develop a strategic plan for future fire management actions on the Nugget Creek Fire.

WEATHER: Near Red Flag Warning conditions are expected on Wednesday due to high temperatures and low relative humidity values. Winds will be light and from the east in the morning;,transitioning to northeast winds in the afternoon with gusts up to 5 mph. An upper level ridge of high pressure will build over Alaska through the week, resulting in persistent warm and dry conditions through Friday. The next chance for precipitation is on Saturday.

SAFETY: An increase in fire activity for several area fires is contributing to increased smoke in the Fairbanks area. With cooler temperatures and higher relative humidity values overnight, motorists should expect smoke to settle in the low-lying areas – particularly in the morning hours. Residents in the area are asked to avoid the Murphy Dome area due to the firefighting activity and the potential for interfering with fire personnel. A Temporary Flight Restriction is in place in the air space over the fire. Pilots are advised to check NOTAMS at https://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_9_0263.html.

A map showing the location and perimeter of the 908-acre Shovel Creek Fire. A map showing the location and perimeter of the 908-acre Shovel Creek Fire. For a downloadable PDF version of the map go to Shovel Creek Fire PDF map June 26

A map showing the location and perimeter of the 658-acre Nugget Creek Fire.

A map showing the location and perimeter of the 658-acre Nugget Creek Fire. For a downloadable PDF version of the map go to Nugget Creek Fire PDF map June 26

About Alaska Division of Forestry

Alaska Division of Forestry website: http://forestry.alaska.gov/ Mission: The Alaska Division of Forestry proudly serves Alaskans through forest management and wildland fire protection. The Wildland Fire and Aviation Program provides safe, cost-effective and efficient fire protection services and related fire and aviation management activities to protect human life and values on State, private and municipal lands. The wildland fire program cooperates with other wildland fire agencies on a statewide, interagency basis.

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