Reconnaissance flight puts size of Munson Creek Fire at more than 36,000 acres; firefighters continue to go on offensive

Start Date: 06/18/2021             Location: 52 miles E of Fairbanks, AK 

Cause: Lightning                       Fire Size: 36,609 acres

Containment: 0%                    Total Personnel: 207

After three cool days of rain showers and high humidity, fire managers say there is still heat in the Munson Creek Fire based on a reconnaissance flight Wednesday. Precipitation this week was not sufficient to put the fire out but has kept it in check and smoldering through the understory. Active fire behavior could return with warmer weather forecast next week.

The estimated size of the fire did increase significantly following Wednesday’s reconnaissance flight. Fire managers now estimate the fire is 36,609 acres, an increase of almost 11,000 acres. The increase is a product of both better mapping and fire growth over the past two days, primarily on the southern end near the Middle Fork of the Chena River. Just over 200 firefighters and overhead personnel are assigned to the fire.

  • Firefighters cut trees and brush to build a containment line on a hillside above Chena Hot Springs Resort on Wednesday, July 7. The hot springs is visible in the background.
  • Three firefighters dig up hot spots in a burned area of the Munson Creek Fire on Wednesday, July 7.
  • A firefighter sprays water from a portable water backpack on a hot spot of the Munson Creek Fire on Wednesday, July 7.

Crews are continuing structure protection from Milepost 42 to 50 on the south side of Chena Hot Springs Road, including buildings within the eastern portion of the Chena River State Recreation Area. Crews are also working on locating and evaluating cabins and homes on the north side of Chena Hot Springs Road.

The cooler, humid days are allowing crews to work at the fire’s edge between Bear Paw Butte southwest of the resort and the aurora viewing cabin to the southeast. They are cutting trees and mopping up, making sure there is no fuel or fire at the edge to stop the forward progression of fire toward Chena Hot Springs.

With firefighter safety the top priority, fire managers are evaluating risk versus reward to determine where to place firefighters on a daily basis. While fire behavior has diminished with the cool, wet weather, fire managers are waiting to see how the fire responds when warmer weather returns and will react accordingly. The “Go” level evacuation order from Mile 48 to Chena Hot Springs at Mile 56.5 remains in effect and is being re-evaluated daily to determine when it can be safely lifted. The western edge of the fire remains about 1 mile south of Chena Hot Springs Road.

A map showing the new perimeter of the Munson Creek Fire, which is now estimated at 36,609 acres following a reconnaissance flight on Wednesday, July 7, 2021.
A map showing the new perimeter of the Munson Creek Fire, which is now estimated at 36,609 acres following a reconnaissance flight on Wednesday, July 7, 2021. For a downloadable PDF version of the map, click here.

Firefighters are strategically positioned to protect structures, cabins and homes in the area if the fire moves close enough to threaten. No structures at the Chena Hot Springs Resort or on Chena Hot Springs Road have been damaged or destroyed and the resort remains open.

FIREWISE: 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:

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

Categories: Active Wildland Fire, AK Fire Info

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