UPDATE 9:30 p.m. June 14
We have updated information on the cluster of five small wildfires located in the Little Chena Valley north of Chena Hot Springs Road at milepost 23.
A reconnaissance flight at around 3:30 p.m. Sunday showed that only two of the fires – the Little Chena (#238) and Little Chena 3 (#242) – showed any signs of activity. Here is a brief rundown of each of the five fires.
Little Chena (#238) – Located approximately 3.7 miles north of Chena Hot Springs Road. The biggest of the five fires at an estimated 2 acres. Four smokes were seen deep in the interior of the fire with no heat on the edge. Firefighters have a hose lay around the perimeter of the fire and have found no heat within 10 feet of the containment line. Firefighters will seek out and extinguish any hot spots found tomorrow to work toward full containment.
Little Chena 2 (#240) – Located about one-quarter mile northeast of the Little Chena Fire (#238). Estimated at one-tenth of an acre with no evidence of smoke or torched trees. Tok helitack crew hiked to it and cold trailed the fire and found no heat. Fire was placed in monitor status.
Little Chena 3 (#241) – Located approximately 2.7 miles northwest of the Little Chena Fire (#238), just south of Anaconda Creek Estimated at 1 acre. No evidence of smoke or fire activity.
Little Chena 4 (#242) – Located approximately 3.5 miles west of the Little Chena Fire (#238) and 1 ¼ miles south of Anaconda Creek. Looked to be 10-feet-by-10-feet in heavy canopy with a trail that runs close by. Showed light, puffy smoke. Firefighters were dropped off by a helicopter and hiked into the fire while a helicopter dropped water on it to contain it.
Little Chena 5 (#244) – Located approximately 4.7 miles northwest of Little Chena Fire (#238) about one-half mile south of Anaconda Creek. Estimated at 1 acres with no evidence of smoke. Pretty far off the closest trail, probably a 5-6 mile hike. Checking the possibility of reaching the fire by four-wheeler.
Firefighters worked late into the night Saturday trying to contain one of a cluster of five wildfires sparked by lightning Saturday in the Little Chena Valley north of Chena Hot Springs Road.
The Little Chena Fire (#238) was estimated at 2 acres following a reconnaissance flight early Sunday afternoon and the fire had been receiving light precipitation, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry. The recon flight showed four smokes in the interior of the fire and one on the edge of the perimeter but the fire had not grown in size overnight.
Eight smokejumpers, a three-person helitack crew from Tok and two firefighters from the Fairbanks Area forestry station spent the night at the fire and were back on the line early Sunday to continue containment efforts.
The fire is located on a steep slope about 3.7 miles north of Chena Hot Springs Road at milepost 23. It is the most active of five fires located within a 5-mile radius. The fires are named the Little Chena, Little Chena 2, Little Chena 3, Little Chena 4 and Little Chena 5.
No water source is available and firefighters constructed saw line around the perimeter of the fire Saturday night and are dry mopping, which means they are digging up hot spots and using dirt and tools to extinguish flames. Because the fire is on a steep slope, roll out from burning materials is a safety concern and problematic for increasing the fire’s spread.
The Little Chena Fire was one of two fires that showed any signs of life during Sunday’s recon flight and fire managers are working to develop a plan of attack for the cluster of fires, which includes evaluating potential access routes to reach the fires by four-wheeler from forestry roads in the area.
The Yukon Type 2 Initial Attack Crew from the Kenai Peninsula is traveling to Fairbanks today to be inserted into the lineup of resources working on the Little Chena fires. The crew was expected in Fairbanks in the late afternoon, at which point smokejumpers will be pulled out so they can be available for initial attack on new fires.