A wildfire burning 5 miles south of Chena Hot Springs has grown to an estimated 150 acres as of Thursday afternoon and continues to put up a significant afternoon smoke column visible from Chena Hot Springs Resort and Chena Hot Springs Road.
The Munson Creek Fire (#235) has nearly doubled in size since a reconnaissance flight on Wednesday afternoon that estimated the fire at 80 acres. The fire is burning in a Limited protection area within Chena River State Recreation Area and no values are currently threatened. The Division of Forestry is actively monitoring the blaze but not currently taking suppression action. Given the fire’s locaon and the adverse terrain it would have to cross to reach Chena Hot Springs, the fire does not currently pose a threat. There is an alpine ridge and a creek between the fire and the hot springs.
While the Angel Rocks Trail remains open, Alaska State Parks has closed the trail at the top of Angel Rocks that follows a ridge to Chena Hot Springs for public safety. State Parks rangers will be posting signs to alert the public of the closure.
As expected with the hot, dry weather, Thursday’s 2 p.m. reconnaissance flight revealed the fire perimeter was 100 percent active and fire managers reported rank 3 fire behavior (on a scale of 1-6). The fire is burning in moderately thick black spruce and was being fanned by southeast winds of 15-20 mph. The majority of smoke is backing away from the hot springs.
The lightning-caused fire was initially reported on June 18 as a 2-acre fire approximately 50 miles northeast of Fairbanks and 5 miles south of the hot springs. With the recent hot, dry weather, however, the fire became much more active Wednesday afternoon and Fairbanks Area Forestry sent a helicopter to scout the fire at 5:30 p.m. The fire had grown to an estimated 80 acres and was about 2 miles south of the trail shelter on the Angel Rocks-Chena Hot Springs Trail.
Four firefighters were dropped off to clear trees and brush around a State Parks shelter cabin on the Angel Rocks to Chena Hot Springs Trail to help protect in the event the fire were to threaten it.
State forestry is assessing structures and contacting homeowners at the end of Chena Hot Springs Road to develop a structure protection plan in the event the fire becomes a threat.