Munson Creek Fire behavior moderates; better mapping puts size at 19,700 acres

Start Date: 06/18/2021             Location: 52 miles E of Fairbanks, AK 

Cause: Lightning                       Fire Size: 19,700 acres 

Containment: 0%                    Total Personnel: 106

Fire behavior on the Munson Creek Fire moderated yesterday evening due in part to light precipitation and movement of the fire from thick spruce into different fuel types. Fire managers noted that the fire “laid down” about two hours earlier than previous days, meaning smoke covered the fire, flame lengths were reduced and the fire became much less active.

Even so, the size of the fire increased significantly from previous estimates due to more accurate mapping. A break in smoke conditions allowed a low-level mapping flight of the fire for the first time in several days. The fire is now estimated at 19,700 acres.

A firefighter holding a running hose to wet down an area around a house.
Yukon Fire Crew member Jonathan Nick wets down the vegetation around a cabin Sunday, July 4, 2021, as they check sprinkler systems. The crew has been working to prepare cabins between milepost 52 Chena Hot Springs Road and the resort as the Munson Creek Fire continues to burn. Sam Harrel/Alaska IncDNR-Division of Forestry

Crews are taking advantage of cooler weather today to continue point protection to create defensible space around structures from Chena Hot Springs Resort at Mile 56.5 Chena Hot Springs Road west to Mile 48. This involves clearing brush and installing hose, pumps and sprinklers around structures as needed to protect them from the fire should it impact them.

Crews continued to gather information about structures along a 10-mile stretch of Chena Hot Springs Road from the hot springs west to Mile 45. Photos, locations and resources and time needed to protect them is being added to a database which will be available for future fires or other incidents.

Firefighters will also open up an old survey line south and west of the resort to protect the complex, which includes a hotel, restaurant, swimming pool and other structures for guests and staff. Hose will be laid along the line to provide a water source if needed. The line will run from two aurora viewing yurts to an old burn scar.

A firefighter talking to a pair of homeowners and pointing to an old burn scar
Yukon Fire Crew Boss trainee Matthew Habermann, second from left, points out an old burn area across the West Fork Chena River from Shawn McCullough, right, and his wife, Janey’s home on Sunday, July 4, 2021 The Yukon crew were performing structure triage of homes along Chena Hot Springs Road between mileposts 52 and 56 as the Munson Creek Fire continues to burn. Sam Harrel/Alaska DNR-Division Forestry

Several fires have burned in the area since 2002. Less dense and less volatile fuels are present in areas previously burned, which serve to slow fire spread. Fire managers are taking advantage of old fire scars in planning management actions on the Munson Creek Fire.

Fire managers are also supporting eight smokejumpers who have identified and completed point protection on four cabins along the Middle Fork of the Chena River. Jumpers are being ferried to different locations by airboat. Additional fire crews are available to help along the Middle Fork if needed.

The Tanana Chiefs and White Mountain crews continue work on the Munson Creek Fire. The UAF Nanooks and Gannett Glacier fire crews are scheduled to arrive on Monday and will replace the Yukon Crew whose two-week assignment ends today. A total of 106 firefighters and overhead are currently assigned to the fire.

The fire was ignited by lightning on June 18 and is burning about 1 mile south of Chena Hot Springs and about 1 ¾ mile from Chena Hot Springs Road in the area of the Angel Rocks Trailhead around Milepost 48, about 50 miles east of Fairbanks. The road and hot springs remain open.

EVACUATION INFO: A “Set” evacuation notice issued by Fairbanks North Star Borough Emergency Operations is in effect for cabin owners from mileposts 45 to 55, as well as guests and staff at Chena Hot Springs. A “Set” evacuation notice means people should be prepared to leave their homes if notified to do so.

CLOSURES: All Alaska State Parks facilities east of milepost 45 Chena Hot Springs Road are closed, including the Angel Rocks Trail and trailhead and Chena Dome Trail and trailhead.

FIREWISE: Home and cabin owners are encouraged to clear brush and trees within 30 feet of their structures to make them more defensible if threatened by a wildfire. Go to for more information on Firewise tactics.

Categories: Active Wildland Fire, AK Fire Info

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