No structures at Chena Hot Springs Resort or along Chena Hot Springs Road have been lost to the Munson Creek Fire as of Tuesday morning. The resort and road remain open but a “Go” evacuation order issued by the Fairbanks North Star Borough Department of Emergency Operations remains in place from Mile 48 to the end of the road at Chena Hot Springs.
Very light showers fell on the fire overnight and although insufficient to put the fire out, the increased relative humidity helped slow fire behavior. Fire continues to creep downhill within 100 yards of Chena Hot Springs this morning. Firefighters are in position to stop the fire when it reaches that point.
Firefighters are concentrating on structure protection at the resort today. In addition, crews will continue to lay fire hose and install and test sprinklers on cabins between 48 Mile and 53 Mile. Approximately 150 firefighters are positioned to protect structures, cabins and homes in the area.
Erratic, gusty winds and near Red Flag conditions at about 3:p.m. Monday pushed the fire rapidly northward toward the resort, prompting fire managers to recommend the evacuation order for Chena Hot Springs and cabins between Milepost 48 and the resort. Active fire behavior Monday caused the fire to grow to an estimated 25,758 acres.
Firefighters tried to light a backfire between the active fire line and the resort in the afternoon but had to wait until gusty winds subsided. They completed the backburn last evening to remove fuel in front of the fire.
State Troopers checked all cabins from 48 Mile to the resort to make sure inhabitants were aware of the evacuation order and to document how many people planned to remain overnight. Approximately 30 cabin residents opted to stay in the area. Troopers also spoke to guests and staff at Chena Hot Springs Resort to make them aware of the situation.
Firefighters wet down buildings around the resort and cabins closest to the fire with pumps, hoses and sprinklers that have been set up during the past week in anticipation of the fire reaching the resort. Pilot cars escorted vehicles toward and away from the resort last night to minimize traffic conflicts with fire vehicles.
The western edge of the fire has moved closer to Chena Hot Springs Road but remains about 1 mile south of cabins and homes along the end of Chena Hot Springs Road from Mile 48 to 56.
The Fairbanks Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) 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 patrolled 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.
EVACUATION INFO: A “Go” evacuation notice issued by Fairbanks North Star Borough Emergency Operations is in effect for cabin owners from mileposts 45 to 56, as well as guests and staff at Chena Hot Springs. A “Go” evacuation notice means people should leave the area.
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