Start Date: 06/18/2021 Location: 52 miles E of Fairbanks, AK
Cause: Lightning Fire Size: 19,700 acres
Containment: 0% Total Personnel: 116
Wind direction changed last night bringing smoke and ash from the Munson Creek Fire to Chena Hot Springs and Fairbanks on Monday morning. The smoke had cleared out by noon as the inversion lifted but motorists should still use extreme caution along the road and watch out for firefighters and firefighting equipment along the road.
The thick smoke is the result of a wind change more than increased fire activity. The 19,700-acre fire continues to spread slowly in all directions and will continue to do so today with temperatures forecast to be in the high 70s with low relative humidity and east winds up to 13 mph. Conditions are expected to change again tonight when a front moves in bringing higher humidity with a possibility of rain.
Aircraft assigned to the fire cannot fly today due to smoke conditions. Fire managers have been notified of an FAA concern about a mechanical issue on Bell 212 and 205 helicopter models, and may need to order additional helicopters to replace the two ships assigned to the Munson Creek Fire. When smoke clears helicopters will again be used to drop buckets of water to assist fire crews on the ground.
Incident Commander Zane Brown has ordered a “Sherp” amphibious vehicle which can transport eight firefighters and gear across land or open water. A Sherp was successfully used on the Straight Creek Fire near the Parks Highway earlier this season. The rig will be used to transport firefighters to and from cabins along the Middle Fork of the Chena after an airboat used to transport them became stuck due to low water.
Firefighters plan to complete and lay hose along a fireline extending from the airstrip at the resort up a trail to the west to an old burn scar where more sparse fuel can slow fire spread. Crews have completed point protection on cabins along Chena Hot Springs Road from 45 Mile to the resort at 56 Mile and will continue to place sprinklers and pumps as needed to raise humidity and slow fire spread near cabins.
A break in smoke conditions Sunday allowed a more accurate low level mapping of the fire for the first time in several days. The Munson Creek fire is now estimated at 19,700 acres.
The UAF Nanooks and Gannett Glacier fire crews are scheduled to arrive today and will replace the Yukon Crew who timed out and departed yesterday. The Tanana Chiefs and White Mountain crews continue work on the Munson Creek Fire. A total of 116 firefighters and overhead are currently assigned to the fire.
The fire was ignited by lightning on June. 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.
TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTION: A TFR is in effect surrounding the fire including drones. For more information check https://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.jsp?p=list&type=all&sort=s&up=Y When you fly, we can’t.
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. For more information on Firewise tactics go to http://forestry.alaska.gov/Assets/pdfs/home/firewise09.pdf