Crews made good progress securing the perimeter of the Montana Creek Fire (#429) on Saturday, thanks partly to a shallow duff layer that is making mop-up quicker and easier. The shallower duff layer means firefighters don’t have to dig down as deep to find and extinguish hot spots.
Firefighters walked the fire perimeter with GPS and determined it to be 367 acres. The fire is 30% contained. There are currently 117 personnel from nine different state, federal, and municipal agencies working on the fire, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry.
A control line has been put in around the entire perimeter of the fire. The line is a mixture of dozer line and hand line cut with chainsaws. There are pumps and hose set up around the entire perimeter to provide firefighters with a water supply for mopping up. Fire managers are confident the fire will remain in its current footprint.
Firefighters have begun mopping up the inside perimeter of the fire working in from the outside edge to search for hot spots and ensure the fire does not creep outside the control line. The entire perimeter has been secured at least 10 feet in and a good chunk of the perimeter has been secured 25 feet in. Firefighters will be adding depth today to secure the line farther in from the perimeter.
Firefighters have cleared around structures closest to the fire and also set up pumps, hose and sprinklers for structure protection, if needed. With structure protection measures completed, the structure protection group has been reduced in size.
The Rainer Type 2 Initial Attack Crew from Washington arrived in the evening and will help secure the southern edge of the fire today. Crews will continue to mop-up to gain depth along the fire edge, to identify and secure problem areas, and grid unburned areas for undetected spot fires.
The Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson Task Force and a strike team of tenders from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough will continue to support mop-up operations and remain ready for initial attack, while the norther region engine strike team will be released today. The JBER task force will be released this evening.
The Montana Creek Fire started on Wednesday and is burning near Mile 98 of the Parks Highway. The fire is 3 miles east of the highway. The cause of the fire remains under investigation and fire investigators are on scene.
No structures have been damaged and no injuries have been reported. Twenty-nine homes in the Montana Creek area remain in “Level 1: Ready” evacuation status. Level 1: Ready evacuation status is not an evacuation order but an alert for residents to be aware there is a possible threat in the area.
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.
Information boards for the fire have been set up at the following spots in the local area:
- Montana Creek Campground at Mile 96.3 Parks Hwy
- Tesoro Gas Station at Mile 99.3 Parks Hwy
- Subway at Mile 99.3 Parks Hwy
- Cubbys grocery store
- Moores Hardware store on Talkeetna Spur Rd
- Matanuska Valley Credit Union on Talkeetna Spur Rd
- Upper Susitna Senior Center