The Montana Creek Fire (#429) remains at an estimated 250 acres with 0% containment.
There is a retardant line around 90 percent of the fire but the fire perimeter remains active in many places and firefighters are engaged in suppressing active fire behavior while also constructing control lines, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry. There is a marked decrease in fire activity today.
There is currently a Level 1 “Get Ready” evacuation notice in place for all residents accessed through South Montana Creek Road at milepost 98 of the Parks Highway due to the potential for the fire to threaten egress for those residents. A Level 1 “Get Ready” evacuation status is not an evacuation order but an alert for residents to be aware there is a possible threat in the area. The on scene fire commanders will determine the need for a change in evacuation level.
On Thursday, firefighters began cutting saw line and laying hose line to tie the fire into a slough on the east side of the fire. A bulldozer was used to begin constructing containment line on the north perimeter of the fire that will connect to the same slough.
A flare-up caused the fire to slop over a dozer containment line on the west perimeter early Wednesday and water drops from water-scooping aircraft, helicopters and UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the Alaska Army National Guard were used to suppress it. Retardant drops from air tankers were also used suppress flare-ups and reinforce the containment lines. A dozer was used to re-construct the compromised containment line. There was little additional growth due to the slop over and containment lines are still holding.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks Wildland Fire Crew was added to the lineup of more than 100 personnel that are working on the fire on Thursday and the White Mountain Type 2 Initial Attack Crew from Fairbanks joined the effort today. The additional boots on the ground should bolster containment efforts.
No structures have been damaged and no injuries have been reported. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Fire managers are asking for the public’s cooperation in avoiding the fire area for safety reasons. There is heavy equipment operating in the area and water tenders are traveling back and forth hauling water into the fire to fill portable water tanks that firefighters are using to take direct suppression action and strengthen containment lines. Additional traffic in the area poses a safety hazard to both the public and firefighters and interferes with firefighting activity.
The smoke visible in the fire area on Friday morning was due to an early morning inversion causing drifting smoke to hang low over the incident. Expect these night time inversions to continue with drift smoke dissipating mid-morning.