Shovel Creek Fire 7am July 4th Update: 712 Firefighters Preparing for Strategic Firing Operations

Fire personnel have plummed the Old Murphy Dome firebreak with portable water holding tanks, miles of hose and pumps. Photo credit: J Michael Johnson/PNW2/DNR Alaska Division of Forestry

On Wednesday, cooler temperatures with high relative humidity allowed firefighters to continue building indirect containment lines and improving structures in preparation for a firing operation. This firing operation is intended to prevent the wildfire from spreading south and east toward structures by burning the fuel between identified containment lines and the main fire. To prepare for this burn operation scheduled to begin Friday (weather permitting), crews fell and limbed trees with chainsaws, while dozers and other heavy equipment constructed fireline by removing trees and scraping the vegetation to mineral soil. These lines are plumbed, or supported with pumps and hoses that can be used to spray water with sprinklers and hoses.

Firefighters progressed with mop up, while patrolling the established containment lines from Murphy Dome east to the Harldluck Creek Fire scar. With this anchor point in place, crews will continue securing the west flank by extinguishing areas of heat along the fire perimeter. Crews continued their direct attack to secure the northwest corner from the Chatanika River south to the Hardluck Creek Fire scar. Fixed wing aircraft equipped with infrared sensors detected and dropped water on the east flank to cool the uncontained fire’s edge.

July 4th Shovel Creek Fire Perimeter Map

Structure protection crews will continue improving defensible space for homes, cabins and outbuildings along the Chatanika River corridor, and in the Martin, Perfect Perch, Lincoln, Murphy and McCloud subdivisions. Firefighter will routinely test pumps, hoselays and sprinkler systems throughout these neighborhoods.

Work will continue on the primary containment line, the fuel break adjacent to Old Murphy Dome Road. The line extends 12 miles east from Murphy Dome to the McCloud Subdivision, then turns north for 4 miles to the Chatanika River. With this line nearly completed, dozers will build lines from this nearly completed line down into Murphy Creek, and crews will cut a saw line in the creek bottom to add another layer to keep the fire from spreading south.  

EVACUATION ALERTS:

An Evacuation shelter has been established at Randy Smith School (1401 Bainbridge Blvd, Fairbanks, AK) to accommodate displaced residents. Additionally, a temporary pet shelter is located at the Tanana Fairgrounds. For additional information and resources on evacuations from the Fairbanks North Star Borough, please visit http://fnsb.us/eo/Pages/EM.aspx, or call (907)459-1308.

  • 52 Structures in LEVEL 3 (GO)Martin (42) and Perfect Perch (10) subdivisions
  • 93 Structures in LEVEL 2 (SET)Lincoln Creek (64), McCloud (40), and Murphy (19) subdivisions
  • Chatanika River corridor remains in LEVEL 1 (READY)

WEATHER: The clouds and cooler weather will move away from the fire area Thursday afternoon with high temperatures in the upper 60’s to lower 70’s and low relative humidity around 50 percent. This weather will present little impact on fire behavior aside from low-level clouds limiting the effectiveness of aviation resources due to poor visibility early. Friday marks the beginning of a warming and drying trend that will dry out fine fuels that comprise the tundra. This weather pattern is expected to promote more active fire behavior.

SAFETY: The 4th of July is Thursday, and we would like to caution those to adhere to the fireworks ban in the Fairbanks North Star Borough and most other parts the state. 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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