The Munson Creek Fire produced more smoke on Tuesday along the north side as the fire moved slightly up the ridge from where it has remained for several days. The fire was also active on the southern heel near Munson Creek.
Incident Commander Kiel Nairns said that minimal movement has not significantly changed the size of the fire, which is estimated at 329 acres. The fire does not pose any threat to cabins or homes along Chena Hot Springs Road or the Chena Hot Springs at this time, but Nairns said the Yukon Crew is monitoring it and is prepared to protect structures if the fire moves significantly. Firefighters have identified previous fire scars where fuels are reduced which will slow the fire’s advancement. Burning conditions and firefighter safety will be considered when determining the best approach to structure protection, if needed.
Cloud cover Tuesday insulated the fire from direct sunlight, causing a relatively stable atmosphere with little vertical air movement. A stable atmosphere allows smoke to remain close to the ground and tends to keep fire behavior moderate. Wind allowed burning to continue, but little growth was noted.
Nairns said that despite its static size over the past four days, the Munson Creek Fire holds potential for growth. When direct sunlight and warmer temperatures return and heat the land, more vertical air movement and unstable atmosphere will likely result in more active fire behavior with smoke rising into the sky.
Because of the low fire behavior exhibited the past few days, the Munson Creek Fire is currently being allowed to burn in order to reduce fuels, create a mosaic of different habitat types and reduce future fire danger, similar to a natural fire regime. Fire is an essential ecological process in the Boreal Forest ecosystem in Alaska.
The Angel Rocks Trail remains open, but Alaska State Parks has closed the Angel Rocks to Chena Hot Springs Trail for public safety. Signs explaining the closure are posted at the Angel Rocks Trailhead and at Chena Hot Springs.
The Munson Creek Fire was initially reported on June 18 as a 2-acre fire approximately 50 miles northeast of Fairbanks. Although very active last week, fire activity has been minimal over the weekend. Activity is expected to remain low with minimal spread until relative humidity drops and temperatures and wind speeds rise.