The Munson Creek Fire burning near Chena Hot Springs crossed a ridgeline about 2 miles south of the hot springs early Friday afternoon and firefighters are falling back to set up protection measures around structures at Chena Hot Springs Resort and cabins and homes at the end of Chena Hot Springs Road.
Firefighters had been successful in holding the fire south of the east-west ridgeline on Thursday despite a dramatic surge in fire behavior due to hot temperatures and wind. However, south winds pushing the fire north toward the ridgeline kicked up late Friday morning, increasing fire behavior and making it unsafe for firefighters to engage the fire on the ridgeline.
The approximately 100 firefighters working on the fire are not only being challenged by unfavorable winds but also limited visibility due to heavy smoke. Helicopters are dropping water on the fire along the ridgetop.
Hot, dry conditions and south winds on Thursday resulted in a significant growth on the fire to the north and east. The fire is currently estimated at 8,900 acres but smoke and fire activity have made getting an accurate perimeter map a challenge. The fire is likely somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 acres.
Firefighters have fallen back to set up hose lines and sprinklers around structures at Chena Hot Springs and private cabins and homes at the end of Chena Hot Springs Road in the event the fire threatens them. Sprinklers were set up around two yurts that are part of the resort and are located about 2 miles south of the hot springs.
EVACUATION INFO: A “Set” evacuation notice for residents living east of Mile 48 Chena Hot Springs Road and guests at Chena Hot Springs Resort has been issued by the Fairbanks North Star Borough office of Emergency Services. A “Set” evacuation notice means residents should have their bags and important items packed and be ready to leave their homes immediately if necessary. The evacuation notice will be re-evaluated daily based on fire activity and weather.
CLOSURES: Due to the increased fire activity, Alaska State Parks has closed all state facilities east of 48 Mile Chena Hot Springs Road including cabins, campgrounds and trails.