The fire received rain on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with the heaviest rainfall reported on Sunday. As of Monday morning, a remote automated weather station near the fire had received 1.2 inches of precipitation since Friday.
Munson Creek Fire
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 3,000-acre Salcha River 2 Fire about 65 miles east of Fairbanks and 15 miles southeast of the Munson Creek Fire is also putting up significant smoke due to increased activity caused by the record-setting heat wave that has broiled the Central and Eastern Interior in recent days. Northeast winds have been pushing smoke from the two fires into Fairbanks and the surrounding areas the past two days.
Renewed activity on Munson Creek Fire prompts heightened evacuation level for residences at end of Chena Hot Springs Road
The heightened evacuation level is due to increased fire activity between Miles 52-54 of Chena Hot Springs Road, where the fire has crept to within one-quarter mile of some cabins and homes near Mile 53. The North Fork of the Chena River is between the fire and the structures but the proximity of the fire to the cabins and homes prompted fire managers to recommend raising the evacuation alert level.
The reduced fire activity due to the rain prompted fire managers with the Alaska Division of Forestry to recommend reducing the evacuation level for homes and cabins along the end of Chena Hot Springs Road from a “Set” to a “Ready” effective immediately. The Fairbanks North Star Borough announced the reduced evacuation status at 2 p.m. Monday.
With warmer weather in the forecast for the next several days, local residents, motorists on Chena Hot Springs Road visitors to Chena Hot Springs and recreationalists in the Chena River State Recreation Area should expect to see visible smoke from the interior of the fire until there is significant rainfall.
There were 119 personnel assigned to the fire as of Thursday morning but that number will shrink in the next few days as resources time out or are demobilized. The tentative plan is to downsize from a Type 3 to a Type 4 organization on Saturday. One crew, 6 engines, 1 helicopter and a small number of overhead personnel will remain to monitor the fire from the road and air.
Hard work by firefighters, observed fire behavior the last few days and a moderating weather forecast persuaded fire managers to recommend reducing the evacuation level, Incident Commander Zane Brown with the Alaska Division of Forestry said, adding that he feels “completely comfortable” doing so.
Incident Commander Zane Brown discusses a burnout operation along Monument Creek during the Munson Creek Fire on July 12, 2021. Ira Hardy/Alaska DNR-Division of Forestry
Forecasters are calling for another day of hot, dry conditions today with temperatures near 80 degrees and near Red Flag conditions this afternoon. Southwest winds of 10-15 mph with gusts to 25 mph are forecast over the fire area Tuesday night into Wednesday that could increase fire behavior. A cold front will push over the fire Wednesday, bringing cooler temperatures, higher relative humidity and even a chance of rain.