Shovel Creek Fire July 6th 8am Update: Day #1 of the Strategic Firing Operation Going as Planned

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Strategic Firing Operation Goes as Planned July 5th 2019
Strategic Firing Operation goes as planned July 5th 2019. Numerous aircraft supported establishing fireline along Old Murphy Dome Road. Photo credit: PNW2 Safety Officer Ken Gregor

With favorable conditions, Friday’s firing operation began at 4:30 p.m. and progressed as planned in a well-coordinated effort to prevent the fire from moving south and east toward residences. Firefighters burned along the dozer line from the communications tower in the Martin neighborhood north into the Murphy Creek drainage. The burn team then continued lighting along Old Murphy Dome Road, moving west toward Murphy Dome until they reached a secure stopping point. Helicopters dropped plastic spheres that ignite after reaching the ground to add depth to the burn and further buffer control lines. Aircraft supported ground personnel by dropping water to help prevent the fire from crossing the dozer line and road.

The goal of this firing operation is to secure a solid control line to keep the wildfire on the north side of Old Murphy Dome Road and west of McCloud Subdivision. This will reintroduce fire into Murphy Creek and the surrounding drainages, areas that have not been burned in a long time. Continuous stands of Black Spruce, a tree with highly resinous needles and branches that ignite and burn easily, are present on the landscape. Burning this area now not only reduces the future risk of destructive wildfires, but also provides for public and firefighter safety by reducing risk and exposure.

When the opportunity to burn arises, firing operations will continue burning westward until they reach Murphy Dome. Once this line is completed, firefighters will hold and secure the burn and reassess conditions to determine whether to continue or suspend firing operations further east.

Supported by helicopters dropping water, crews will continue securing the perimeter along the northwest corner from the Chatanika River to the 2009 Hardluck Creek Fire scar, south to the Bennet Highway (15 Mile Trail), and east to Murphy Dome. Structure protection will continue for homes, cabins and outbuildings in the Martin, Perfect Perch, Lincoln, Murphy and McCloud neighborhoods, as well as the Chatanika River corridor. Structure assessments are ongoing in other neighborhoods under a Level 1 or 2 Evacuation Alert.

The strategic firing operation on July 5th is depicted on the map with a set of lines towards the Martin neighborhood. As the fuels consume, the map will reflect the new acreage and the new containment lines. Photo credit: Air Attack/AFS Alaska Fire Service

One of the frequently asked questions we receive is, “How can we help the firefighters?” A great way to help all firefighters is to keep your property tidy and create defensible space around your structure. For more information, read the Firewise Alaska brochure at;


·       LEVEL 1 (READY) – Chatanika River Corridor, Drouin , Hardluck , Moose MountainCoyote Jones ,and Hattie Creek neighborhoods

·       LEVEL 2 (SET) – Lincoln CreekMurphyMcCloud and Vancouver neighborhoods

·       LEVEL 3 (GO) – Martin and Perfect Perch neighborhoods

Due to an ongoing firing operation, residents who leave while in Level 3 Evacuation Status will not be allowed to re-enter their properties. 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, or call (907) 459-1308.

RESOURCES: 8 hotshot crews, 11 type 2 handcrews, 20 engines, 12 dozers, 7 helicopters, and 12 water tenders

WEATHER: High pressure continues over most of Alaska. Saturday will be warmer and dryer with temperatures reaching the upper 70’s to mid 80’s and relative humidity dropping to the about 30 percent. Winds are forecasted to be variable and terrain influenced. Overnight temperature will remain above 60 degrees combined with poor overnight recovery. Smoke will continue to impact the Fairbanks area. For more information on smoke and air quality, visit;

CLOSURES: The Alaska National Guard is currently staffing three road closures that will remain in place until further notice; (1) Spinach Creek Rd. and Old Murphy Dome Rd. junction – westbound (2) Murphy Dome Rd. and Old Murphy Dome Rd. junction – northbound (3) Murphy Dome Summit and Old Murphy Dome Rd.  A Temporary Flight Restriction is in place in the air space over the fire. Pilots are advised to check NOTAMS at:

Categories: AK Fire Info


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