The stubborn Munson Creek Fire east of Fairbanks got a punch in the gut from Mother Nature on Friday in the form of much-needed rain and cooler temperatures that dampened fire activity on the 54,050-acre wildfire that has been burning near Chena Hot Springs for more than six weeks.
The fire received light rain on and off throughout the day to help keep fire behavior to a minimum a day after the evacuation alert level was raised from a “Ready” to “Set” for residences east of 48 Mile Chena Hot Springs Road due to increasing fire activity around 53 Mile.
Incident Commander Tony Peterson with Fairbanks Area Forestry said the fire backed down to the Chena River in multiple spots Thursday night and early Friday morning but the fire had not crossed the river to threaten any cabins or homes. The river separates homes and cabins from the fire in that area.
“It’s kind of fingery and it’s making its way making to the river now but it’s pretty much a ground fire,” Peterson said late Friday morning. “It’s just creeping along. It hasn’t been burning the tops of trees. We aren’t really seeing any fast moving fire activity.”
The fire received what Peterson described as “solid rain” Friday but that along won’t be enough to put it out. It will require substantial rain to put the fire out. Nonetheless, the cooler, wetter weather will retard fire behavior and keep the fire from acting up like it had been during the hot, dry weather earlier this week.
The fire had crept to less than one-quarter mile of some cabins and homes in the area around Mile 53, though the river still separated the structures from the fire.
The Fairbanks #1 Crew was called in yesterday to reinstall pumps and sprinklers at 16 cabins and homes that were closest o the fire’s edge. The crew ran the pumps and sprinklers all day Thursday to wet down the area around the cabins and homes and planned to do again today if the rain wasn’t heavy enough to do so.
There are also two engines patrolling the road in the area to monitor the fire and check on structures in the area, he said.