Shovel Creek Fire: Fire Spreads Eastward into Blueberry Creek and South toward Murphy Creek

550 Firefighters are working to prevent fire spread towards private homes. Photo credit: Kale Casey/Alaska Incident Management Team
550 Firefighters are working to prevent fire spread towards private homes. Photo credit: Kale Casey/Alaska Incident Management Team

The Alaska Incident Management Team (IMT) will host a community meeting for the Shovel Creek Fire on Sunday, June 30 beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Ken Kunkel Community Center pavilion or recreation hall (weather dependent) at 2645 Goldstream Road, Fairbanks, AK. 

On Saturday, hot and dry weather, continuous stands of black spruce, west winds, and steep slopes led to extreme fire behavior along the northeast portion of the Shovel Creek Fire near the Chatanika River. Despite a strong direct attack from firefighters with support from aircraft (scooper planes, air tankers and helicopters with buckets), the fire spread eastward into Blueberry Creek and south toward Murphy Creek. This rapid fire growth towards nearby subdivisions prompted fire managers to recommend that Fairbanks North Star Borough Emergency Operations raise the Evacuation Alert for Martin and Perfect Perch subdivisions to a Level 3 (GO). The Evacuation Alert for McCloud and Murphy subdivisions were raised from a Level 1 (READY) to a Level 2 (SET). An Evacuation shelter has been established at Randy Smith Middle School (1401 Bainbridge Blvd, Fairbanks, AK). A temporary pet shelter is located atthe Tannana Fairgrounds.

Division of Forestry Agency Administrator Tim Dabney reminds fire personnel that public and firefighter safety are the highest priority. Photo credit: Kale Casey/Alaska Incident Management Team
Division of Forestry Agency Administrator Tim Dabney reminds fire personnel that public and firefighter safety are the highest priority. Photo credit: Kale Casey/Alaska Incident Management Team

Crews installed and tested water pumps, hoses, and sprinkler systems to protect structures along the banks of the Chatanika River. With point protection in place for the Martin Subdivision, firefighters continue assessing and preparing structures in the Lincoln Creek, Perfect Perch, Murphy and McCloud subdivisions. 

Firefighters mopped up, held, and improved containment lines established from a strategic firing operation along the south and east flanks of the fire. The successful firing operation created a fuel break on the east flank from 7 Mile Trail southward to Murphy Dome, and along the south flank from Murphy Dome westward to the 2009 Hardluck Creek Fire scar. 

On Sunday, firefighters will focus on holding the south flank of the fire and fortify established containment lines. With an anchor point in place, crews and equipment will build containment lines to the east and north using existing roads, established fire breaks and natural features. Structure protection will resume in all immediate areas impacted by the wildfire.

EVACUATION NOTICES:

LEVEL 3 (GO)Martin and Perfect Perch subdivisions

LEVEL 2 (SET)Lincoln Creek, McCloud, and Murphy subdivisions

LEVEL 1 (READY) – Chatanika River corridor

June 30th Shovel Creek Fire map.
June 30th Shovel Creek Fire map.

A Level 3 Evacuation means GO! Evacuate now. Leave immediately. The danger in your area is current and you should evacuate immediately.  Do not delay leaving to gather any belongings or make efforts to protect your home. Drive calmly and with special attention to emergency vehicles. Do not block access to roadways for Emergency vehicles or other evacuees. This will be the last notice you will receive after evacuation. “Check in” at an emergency shelter. Whether you stay ther or not, “checking in” will help others know that you are safe. Take pets to a PET Evacuation Shelter. Do not call 911 for non-emergencies. Do not attempt to re-enter the fire area until it is declared safe to do so. A call center is available for additional information at (907) 459-1308. Remember the 6-P’s; People, Pets, Pills, Photos, Personal (computer back-up info), and important Papers.

WEATHER: A cold front is forecasted to move into the fire area Sunday afternoon, bringing wetting rain to the fire area over the next two days. Prior to the frontal arrival, showers and thunderstorms are possible with gusty and erratic winds, which could cause rapid fire spread. Temperatures will be cooler for the next few days with highs in the upper 60’s to mid 70’s. Hot and dry weather will resume as a high pressure system is predicted to build next week.

SAFETY: An increase in fire activity for several area fires is contributing to increased smoke in the Fairbanks area. 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.

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