The Nugget Creek Fire (#323) has grown to approximately 19,000 acres based on a flight taken over the fire on Monday, July 15, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry. That’s an increase of about 3,000 acres since the fire was last mapped on July 9.
Most of the new growth has occurred gradually on the south and east flanks, away from the Chena River and Chena Hot Springs Road, Visible smoke in the area is largely due to the consumption of unburned pockets of fuel within the fire’s interior. Fire activity along the northern edge near the Chena River closest to Chena Hot Springs Road is minimal.
The fire is burning east of Fairbanks in the Chena River State Recreation Area. The southern point of the fire has crossed South Fork Chena River approximately 5 miles south of Chena Hot Springs Road into the 2013 Stuart Creek Fire scar, where it continues to back slowly.
The fire was started by lightning on June 21 and is burning along Chena Hot Springs Road between mileposts 29 and 40. The fire remains on the south side of the road and Chena River, though it has burned up to the river’s edge in many spots. It is burning in a limited protection area and is being monitored to this point by six firefighters along Chena Hot Springs Road to ensure that it remains south of the river and road.
The Nugget Creek public-use cabin, which is located on the east bank of the South Fork Chena River within the fire perimeter, remains intact as of July 15, although the fire burned up to the east side of the structure. Pumps, hose and sprinklers in place due to some residual pockets of heat in the area around the cabin.
A new, lightning-caused fire (Wheeler Ridge #580) is burning several miles southeast of the Nugget Creek Fire. Approximately 2 acres in size, the fire is burning in a limited protection area with no values at risk and will be monitored by air. Smoke from this fire may be visible from Chena Hot Springs Road and the surrounding area.
CLOSURES: Alaska State Parks has closed both the Nugget Creek public-use cabin and the Mastodon Trail leading to it until further notice. The trailhead is located at mile 38.6, Chena Hot Springs Road. The Granite Tors Trailhead and parking at mile 39 is also closed but river access at milepost 39 has been reopened. The river access road at mile 37.7 remains closed. For more information on closures in the state rec area contact Alaska State Parks at 451-2695 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on current road conditions, visit http://511.alaska.gov.