Start Date: 06/18/2021 Location: 52 miles E of Fairbanks, AK
Cause: Lightning Fire Size: 25,758 acres
Containment: 0% Total Personnel: 106
More cool and damp weather today is just what firefighters on the 25,758-acre Munson Creek Fire ordered.
Crews continue to take advantage of quiet fire behavior resulting from light rain, high humidity and cool temperatures to make progress in structure protection on cabins along Chena Hot Springs Road and at Chena Hot Spring Resort.
Crews will focus on clearing brush and installing sprinkler equipment on cabins between mileposts 42 and 48 today. As of yesterday evening point protection had been completed on 72 cabins on the south side of Chena Hot Springs Road closest to the fire, between miles 48 and 56. Firefighters are strategically positioned to protect structures, cabins and homes in the area if the fire moves close enough to pose a threat. No structures at the resort or on Chena Hot Springs Road have been lost and Chena Hot Springs remains open. Nearly 200 firefighters and overhead personnel are assigned to the Munson Creek Fire.
Erratic, gusty winds and near Red Flag conditions Monday afternoon pushed the fire rapidly northward toward the resort. Crews had completed a fire line south of the resort and were spraying water on it to slow the fire but had to be pulled back for safety concerns. 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.
Starting yesterday and continuing today, firefighters are able to “go direct” on the burning edge of the fire to stop the slow, creeping movement down the hill directly behind Chena Hot Springs. They have wrapped up point protection on four cabins along the Middle Fork of the Chena River.
Precipitation and high relative humidity has given an advantage to fire crews this week, but temperatures are forecast to return to the high 70s early next week which will likely prompt a return to more active burning conditions. Fire crews are working hard to get sprinkler systems in place and functional around most cabins and homes from miles 42 to 56 by then to increase relative humidity and decrease burning conditions.
A “Go” evacuation notice issued by Fairbanks North Star Borough Emergency Operations is still in effect for cabin owners from mileposts 45 to 56, as well as guests and staff at Chena Hot Springs due to fire, smoke, low visibility and a forecast to return to hot, dry weather. A “Go” evacuation notice means people should leave the area. The evacuation status is evaluated daily and will be lowered when threats from the fire are reduced.
The western edge of the fire has moved closer to Chena Hot Springs Road but remains about 1 mile south of Chena Hot Springs Road. Visibility has decreased during mornings and evenings due to smoke and caution is recommended. Pilot cars will be in place if needed for safety.
Cabin owners have much more time during the year to make their property defensible from wildfire than do firefighters when fires are nearby. Before a fire threatens, owners are encouraged to clear brush and trees within 30 feet of their structures and reduce fuel at and around the structure. Firewise tactics are listed at: http://forestry.alaska.gov/Assets/pdfs/home/firewise09.pdf
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.
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.