Better mapping puts Nugget Creek Fire at estimated 6,900 acres

Firefighters were able to get a better look at the Nugget Creek Fire from the air on Monday and the new acreage estimate for the fire burning east of Fairbanks in the Chena River State Recreation Area is 6,900 acres, more than double the previous estimate, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry.

Firefighters from the Alaska Division of Forestry's Fairbanks Area office watch from a gravel bar as the Nugget Creek Fire backs down a hillside toward the Chena River near Mile 37.7 Chena Hot Springs Road on Sunday, June 30, 2019. Photo by Meg Cicciarella/Alaska Division of Forestry

Firefighters from the Alaska Division of Forestry’s Fairbanks Area office watch from a gravel bar as the Nugget Creek Fire backs down a hillside toward the Chena River near Mile 37.7 Chena Hot Springs Road on Sunday, June 30, 2019. Photo by Meg Cicciarella/Alaska Division of Forestry

The lightning-caused fire remains south of the Chena River and Chena Hot Springs Road but has burned down to the south edge of the river in some places. At its closest point, the fire is one-half mile from the road. The fire is being monitored by firefighters from Chena Hot Springs Road and from the air but no suppression action has been taken to this point because the fire is burning in a limited protection area.

The objective for the fire is to keep it south of the river and road. There are six firefighters in three engines monitoring the fire from the road. The firefighters are camping in the area to to be able to respond quickly if the fire does cross the river and approach the road.

Rain and cooler temperatures on Sunday helped to moderate fire behavior, which on Monday was described as smoldering, creeping and backing

Much of the increase in acreage came on Saturday when the fire made a 3-mile run to the east. Conditions were too smoky to do an accurate aerial reconnaissance of the fire on Sunday but conditions cleared enough on Monday to get a better view of the fire perimeter from the air.

Fire scars to the west and east of the fire should potentially limit the spread of the fire in those directions should it reach those areas.

A sign along Chena Hot Springs Road warns motorists of firefighting activity along the road on Monday, July 1, 2019. Photo by Meg Cicciarella

A sign along Chena Hot Springs Road warns motorists of firefighting activity along the road on Monday, July 1, 2019. Photo by Meg Cicciarella

SAFETY: The fire is visible from the road and motorists are asked to avoid stopping along the roadside to take pictures or watch the fire so as not to pose a safety hazard to themselves or other motorists. Due to heavy smoke in the area, motorists are also advised to drive with care in the fire area along Chena Hot Springs Road, and to watch for fire apparatus exiting the highway near mile 37.7. For a full daily smoke report, go to http://wildlandfiresmoke.net

WEATHER: A high-pressure system is building back in over the Interior and conditions are expected to get warmer and drier for the next several days, with high temperatures in the 80s for much of the week.

CLOSURES: Alaska State Parks has closed both the Nugget Creek public-use cabin and the Mastodon Trail leading to it until further notice. The trailhead is located at mile 38.6 Chena Hot Springs Road. The Granite Tors Trail at mile 39 is also closed. River access roads at miles 37.7 and 39 have also been closed. For additional information regarding closure in the state rec area contact Alaska State Parks at 451-2695 or by email at brooks.ludwig@alaska.gov. For information on current road conditions, visit http://511.alaska.gov.

INFORMATION: Information about the fire is available on http://www.akfireinfo.com, InciWeb, at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6401/ and information sign boards at mile 23.5, and the turnout at mile 35 Chena Hot Springs Road.

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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