The Munson Creek Fire is currently less than a half mile from Chena Hot Springs Resort and trees can be seen torching on the hillside behind the resort as the fire slowly advances down the hill.
As of 8 p.m., there have been no reports of any structures burning. Approximately 150 firefighters are positioned to protect structures, cabins and homes in the area. Firefighters are wetting down buildings around the resort with pumps, hoses and sprinklers that have been set up during the past week in anticipation of the fire reaching the resort. Firefighters are also conducting a backburn along a trail that runs east of the resort to two aurora viewing yurts to burn off fuel before the fire reaches that point in hopes of halting the fire’s advance toward the resort.
The fire has reached Monument Creek a few miles east of the resort but had not crossed the creek at last report. The western edge of the fire has moved closer to Chena Hot Springs Road but remains 1-2 miles south of cabins and homes along the end of Chena Hot Springs Road from Mile 48 to 56.
Firefighters have spent the last week assessing structures, clearing brush around them and installing pumps, hose and sprinklers around the resort and cabins and homes along the road to wet down the area around them to protect them if the fire could reach them.
Fire intensity on the 19,700-acre fire ramped up Monday afternoon at around 3 p.m. The increased activity prompted fire managers to issue a “Go” evacuation order for residents from Mile 48 Chena Hot Springs Road to Chena Hot Springs Resort at the end of the road at Mile 56.5, including guests and staff at the resort.
Alaska State Troopers responded and went door to door at each cabin along Chena Hot Springs Road between Mile 48 and Chena Hot Springs Resort at the end of the road to ensure those occupying the cabins are aware of the evacuation order. Troopers compiled a list of residents who are not evacuating so fire managers know how many people have not evacuated. As of 8 p.m., approximately 25-30 residents said they were not evacuating. Troopers also spoke to guests and staff at Chena Hot Springs Resort to make them aware of the situation.
Most of today’s fire growth has been on the east side of the fire, east of the hot springs but the fire continues to spread slowly in all directions. Firefighters cutting a fire break along a trail on the hillside behind the resort pulled back when fire intensity increased late Monday afternoon. Firefighters are now focused on protecting structures at the resort and along Chena Hot Springs Road in the event the fire advances that far. Pumps, hose and sprinklers have been set up around structures at the resort, in addition to cabins and homes along the end of Chena Hot Springs Road from mileposts 52 to 56.
The Fairbanks Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is stationed at the Pleasant Valley Store near 24 Mile Chena Hot Springs Road to provide information to displaced evacuees about shelter. Members from CERT and Volunteers in Policing will be patrolling Chena Hot Springs Road between Mile 48 and Chena Hot Springs from midnight to 6 a.m. to provide security for vacant cabins and homes.