Due to an increase in fire behavior on the Munson Creek Fire this afternoon, a “Go” evacuation order has been issued for Chena Hot Springs Resort and residences along Chena Hot Springs Road from Mile 48 to Mile 56. The Fairbanks North Star Borough issued a Level 3 “Go” evacuation order at 4:15 p.m. advising local residents and guests at the resort to leave the area immediately.
Fire intensity picked up at around 3 p.m. and fire managers made the decision to issue the evacuation order when the fire hit a management action point less than a mile behind Chena Hot Springs. A wind change in the next 45 minutes is expected to further influence fire behavior on the ground. Most of the fire growth to this point has been to the east of Chena Hot Springs. No structures have been lost at this point.
There are two well-developed smoke columns behind the hot springs and the fire is advancing toward the resort. Resort owner Bernie Karl does not intend to evacuate the resort and will shelter in place, though some guests and staff at the resort are leaving. Division of Forestry public information officers at Chena Hot Springs are advising the public to evacuate because visibility could decline and make leaving later problematic.
Fire managers expect to be able to see flames coming over the ridge toward the resort. Firefighters working to cut a fire break behind the hot springs were pulled back and are now focusing on structure protection around the resort and at homes/cabins along Chena Hot Springs Road.
More resources have been ordered for the fire, including additional engines and crews to assist with structure protection. Pumps, hoses and sprinklers have been set up around structures at the resort and around cabins/homes down to Mile 52 Chena Hot Springs Road. Crews will be setting up additional structure protection measures around homes as far west as Mile 48.
Security personnel are being ordered to patrol the area to protect vacant cabins and homes due to the evacuation.