Shovel Creek Fire grows; others continue to burn near Fairbanks

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska As hot dry conditions persist fire danger in the interior remains high with numerous fires burning around Fairbanks and over 100 fires in the Yukon Flats. The most threatening fire is currently the Shovel Creek Fire burning north of Murphy Dome.

Officials from the Alaska Incident Management Team and Borough Emergency Operations met with almost 200 residents Wednesday night to update them on the Shovel Creek Fire, talk about the ‘Level 1: Ready’ evacuation notice for subdivisions near Murphy Dome, and answer questions.

Officials from the Alaska Incident Management Team and Borough Emergency Operations met with almost 200 residents Wednesday night to update them on the Shovel Creek Fire, talk about the ‘Level 1: Ready’ evacuation notice for subdivisions near Murphy Dome, and answer questions.

Jeff Deet lives inside the McCloud subdivision which is in a ready state. He said they are aware that fire danger is present when it is hot outside and you live in black spruce so they were largely prepared for the notice. Still, they did take precautions.

“As we got the notice, we thought a little bit more about exactly how safe our property is,” Deet said. He made sure fuel jugs were away from the house and that his family had a way to move their 40 sled dogs if they need. “In a moment’s notice we can just load up and get out,” he said.

A ‘Ready’ evacuation notice has been issued for the Martin subdivision, McCloud subdivision, Murphy subdivision, Lincoln subdivision, Perfect Perch Drive and the Chatanika River corridor.

There are 345 personnel assigned to the Shovel Creek Fire with many crews from the lower-48 helping. There over 25 crews from the lower-48 in Alaska to assist with the high fire activity around the state and more are on the way.

A spot fire jumped Shovel Creek Wednesday and burned into an old fire scar. Overall the fire grew over 700 acres Wednesday and is now estimated at 1,622 acres with no containment.

“We are actively putting in saw line, getting hoses in behind that and trying to get suppression on the fire,” said Norm McDonald, incident commander for the Alaska Team.

Crews have laid over 15 miles of firehose around the perimeter of the fire. They are also working to protect recreational cabins and residents nearest the fire on the Chatanika River.

Because of fire activity Moose Mountain Resort and the top of Murphy dome has been closed to public access. Officials are asking people to stay clear of these areas for their own safety and to not disrupt fire efforts.

Officials have set up signs around the area with fire maps and information about evacuations. There is also a temporary flight restriction in effect that applies to drones. Officials said that if they see drones in the area, all aircraft must be grounded until the drone is gone.

Other fires:

The Caribou Creek fire started on June 16 and has burned 310 acres around 7 and a half miles off of 18 mile Chena Hot Springs Road. The fire is 65% contained and crews continue mop up efforts.

The Nugget Creek has burned 665 acres in a Limited Protection Area near 36 mile Chena Hot Springs Road. The fire is still active but is boxed in by old burns. A repel crew was inserted today and will set up sprinklers around several cabins potentially threatened by the fire.

The Ninetyeight Creek Fire was started by lightning Wednesday and is burning in an area of black spruve three miles northwest of where Ninetyeight Creek meets the Salcha River. The fire has burned 40 acres and is two miles from the nearest structure. Eighteen smokejumpers and multiple water-scooping aircraft and a retardant tanker attacked the fire last night and more resources are expected today.

Officials are monitoring and fighting multiple fires in the Yukon flats that are threatening villages and native allotments. They are also managing a 1,700-acre fire southeast of Tok.

Further south, officials continue to battle the 42,000-acre Swan Lake Fire burning along the Sterling Highway near Sterling. The fire has caused significant delays to traffic with the road reduced to one lane. The 511 personnel working the fire have been using back burns to stop the fire from crossing the highway and threatening the Homer Electric Transmission Line.

There are 121 active fires burning in Alaska.

Many areas of the state remain under a burn suspension due to the hot dry conditions. Burn barrel and open debris fires are prohibited and any burn permits have been suspended. Small campfires under three feet in diameter are still allowed but officials advise against them.

The hot conditions are expected throughout the weekend with temperatures possibly reaching the 90s on Saturday. Smoke will linger in Fairbanks for the foreseeable future.

More information can be found at akfireinfo.com