The Nugget Creek Fire (#323) experienced gusty and erratic winds over the fire area yesterday afternoon (July 16) along with isolated thunder cells. The fire is approximately 19,000 acres based on a rough aerial estimate, with growth occurring mainly on the south and east flank, away from Chena River and Chena Hot Springs Road. Pockets of unburned fuel continue to be consumed within the fire perimeter, sometimes producing smoke that may be visible from Chena Hot Springs Road and the surrounding area.
The fire is located east of Fairbanks in the Chena River State Recreation Area, where it has burned into the scar from the 2013 Stuart Creek Fire on the west and the Rock Creek Fire scar from 2000 on the east.
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 south 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 by six firefighters on engines 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. Firefighters will hike into the cabin in the next couple of days to assess the situation and check on the pumps, sprinklers and hose.
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.