Munson Creek Fire grows to 300 acres but cooler, cloudier weather curbs fire behavior

A wildfire burning just south of Chena Hot Springs had grown to an estimated 300 acres as of Friday morning and continues crawling north toward the hot springs but cooler, cloudier weather on Friday was tempering fire activity compared to the previous two days.

Based on reconnaissance flights and satellite imagery, the Munson Creek Fire (#235) was about 4 miles from the hot springs and about 1 mile from a trail shelter cabin on the Angel Rocks to Chena Hot Springs Trail.

Smoke rises from a wildfire in the distance
The Munson Creek Fire burns about 4 miles south of Chena Hot Springs puts up smoke Friday afternoon, June 25, 2021 in this picture taken from a hill top behind the hot springs. Kiel Narins/Alaska DNR-Division of Forestry

Cloudy, cooler weather today was helping to calm fire behavior, which was described creeping and smoldering. Winds out of the northwest were pushing smoke away from Chena Hot Springs and Chena Hot Springs Road.

Incident Commander Kiel Narins described fire activity on Friday as “pretty mellow” and said most activity was on the south side of the fire farthest from the hot springs. That’s in stark contrast to the previous two days when temperatures heated up and sun hit the south-facing fire, producing a large smoke column that was visible from Chena Hot Springs and Chena Hot Springs Road. The fire is burning predominantly in black spruce.

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 any direct suppression action. There is a creek and a rocky, alpine ridge between the fire and the hot springs and fire managers don’t anticipate the fire threatening the hot springs or any cabins or homes at the end of Chena Hot Springs Road.

A shelter cabin with brush and trees cleared around it.
Firefighters cleared brush and trees around a shelter cabin on the Angel Rocks to Chena Hot Springs Trail on Wednesday. The shelter cabin is about 1 mile north of the Munson Creek Fire. Kiel Narins/Alaska DNR-Division of Forestry

The 16-person Yukon Crew was mobilized to the fire on Friday morning and spent the day scouting the fire, Narins said. The crew did hike 2 miles up to the shelter cabin to cut some trees and brush around the structure. The crew will be monitoring the fire and assessing structures in the area as part of a structure protection plan being developed by Fairbanks Area Forestry.

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.

The 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 has become more active and grown in size.

Categories: Active Wildland Fire, AK Fire Info

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