Shovel Creek Fire: Aerial View of the State of Alaska Funded Old Murphy Dome Fuel Break

If you prefer watchig on YouTube, click here https://youtu.be/77Fy4Y82ayM. In this video you’ll sit in the left seat of a helicopter and look our over this enormous fuel break that the State of Alaska funded years ago just north of Old Murphy Dome. Firefighters have begun using this fuel break today as a critical part of the strategic firing operation that is needed to establish containment lines after the fire compromised direct firelines on June 29, 2019.

A thoroughly planned firing operation will commence today when favorable conditions align. Temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction and fuel moisture are the some of the key factors that will dictate the time and duration of this burnout operation. The goal is to secure a solid control line along established fuel breaks to keep the wildfire on the north side of Old Murphy Dome Road and west of McCloud Subdivision.

The firing operation will begin just north of the Martin Neighborhood in the Murphy Creek drainage and along Old Murphy Dome Rd. From there, the burn team will move west until they reach Murphy Dome and connect to solid containment lines. Once this is completed, firefighters will hold and secure the burn and reassess conditions to determine whether to continue or suspend firing operations further east.

The burn team consists of a firing boss, 4 hotshot crews, a strike team of engines, 4 water tenders, and other fireline supervisors. Additional firefighting resources will be on hand to help support the firing operation including crews, engines, and aircraft. Aviation resources available to support Friday’s missions include; 2 heavy helicopters, 3 medium helicopter, 2 light helicopters, Fire Bosses, and air tankers. Structure protection groups will maintain readiness in and around nearby neighborhoods.

Crews will continue securing the fire’s edge along the west flank from Murphy Dome to the 15 Mile trail and south from the Chatanika River into the Hardluck Fire scar. Structure protection will continue for homes, cabins and outbuildings along the Chatanika River corridor, and in the Martin, Perfect Perch, Lincoln, Murphy and McCloud neighborhoods.

EVACUATION ALERTS:

· LEVEL 1 (READY) 741 Structures – Chatanika River Corridor, Drouin (41), Hardluck (104), Moose Mountain (440), Coyote Jones (41), and Hattie Creek (26) neighborhoods

· LEVEL 2 (SET) 180 Structures – Lincoln Creek (64), Murphy (19), McCloud (40) and Vancouver (57) neighborhoods

· LEVEL 3 (GO) 52 Structures – Martin (42) and Perfect Perch (10) neighborhoods

An evacuation shelter has been established at Randy Smith School (1401 Bainbridge Blvd, Fairbanks, AK) to accommodate evacuees. A temporary pet shelter is located at the Tanana Fairgrounds. For more information about evacuation levels issued by the Fairbanks North Star Borough, please visit http://fnsb.us/eo/Pages/EM.aspx, or call (907) 459-1308.

RESOURCES: 8 hotshot crews, 11 type 2 handcrews, 31 engines, 12 dozers, 7 helicopters, and 12 water tenders

WEATHER: 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. High temperatures are forecasted to be in the mid-70’s to lower 80’s and low relative humidity from 30 to 40 percent.

CLOSURES: The Alaska National Guard is currently staffing three road closures; (1) Spinach Creek Rd. and Old Murphy Dome Rd. junction (2) Murphy Dome Rd. and Old Murphy Dome Rd. junction (3) Access to Murphy Dome at Murphy Dome Rd. and 15 Mile Trail. Travel may be delayed for those wishing to access the boast launch via Murphy Dome Rd. 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_5441.html

Shovel Creek Fire Information
Fire Information: 907-347-6801
Email: 2019.ShovelCreek@firenet.gov
Shovel Creek Fire: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6400/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AK.Forestry/
Web: www.akfireinfo.com

Old Murphy Dome Fuel Break
Visual Tour of the Old Murphy Dome Fuel Break. Video credit: PNW2 Operations Chief Barry Shullanberger

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