Updated 12 p.m.: Friday's hot, dry weather spurred additional growth on the Shovel Creek Fire, which is now estimated at 3,424 acres. More than 500 personnel are battling the blaze.
Smoke from the dozens of wildfires burning in Interior and Southcentral areas is degrading air quality throughout the region. Air quality will range from good to very unhealthy, depending on wind direction and residents' proximity to the fires. Air quality directly downwind from the fires will be hazardous.
To see the forecast for smoke, visit http://smoke.alaska.edu/PM25.html
Residents of a neighborhood in northwest Fairbanks have been advised that they need to be ready to evacuate if notified. The evacuation level has been raised to a Level 2.
The Shovel Creek Fire poses a possible threat to homes in the Lincoln Subdivision, which includes Abraham, Emancipation, Yankee, Reconstruction, Seward, Sherman, Appomattox and Rebel roads. The subdivision lies in an area of black spruce and includes about 64 structures.
According to the Fairbanks North Star Borough Department of Emergency Services, a Level 2 evacuation alert means people should be set to evacuate. This means assembling a kit of important items to take in the event of an evacuation.
A Level 2 evacuation is not a notice to leave, but it means residents must be ready and prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. A Level 2 signifies that there is significant danger. Residents may have time to gather necessary items, however they must be prepared and ready to relocate. At Level 2, this may be the only notice they get to finish getting ready to evacuate.
A call center is available for additional information at 907-459-1308.
On Friday morning, the Shovel Creek Fire, which was started June 21 by lightning, had grown to 2,307 acres, but hot, dry conditions meant firefighters focused on controlling the south and east sides of the fire. It is located 3 miles north of Murphy Dome, about 20 miles northwest of Fairbanks. The fire is staffed by 446 personnel.
The borough reminds residents to remember the “6 P’s” when preparing to evacuate: people, pets, pills, photos, personal (computer back-up info) and important papers.
The Martin, McCloud, Murphy, Perfect Perch Drive and the Chatanika River corridor remain under notice of possible evacuation. A Level 1 warning means a fire is in the area and residents should be prepared in case conditions change.
As fires start and spread statewide, the Alaska State Fire Marshal’s office has suspended the sale and use of fireworks in the Fairbanks North Star Borough and other areas.
The temporary ban is also in effect throughout the Kenai Peninsula Borough; the Matanuska-Susitna Borough; the Kodiak Island Borough; the Copper River Valley, including Glennallen south to Valdez; Western Alaska, including McGrath and points west; Tanana Valley north of the Alaska Range; and the northern portion of the Alaska panhandle, including Haines, Skagway and Juneau, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry.
Here’s a roundup of other wildfires burning in the Interior:
• The Nugget Creek Fire remains active, although the Alaska Incident Management Team reports fire activity has been minimal and command of the fire will be returned to the local unit on Saturday.
With the fire burning in the Chena River State Recreation Area, the Alaska State Parks has closed Granite Tors Trail because of increased fire activity and smoke. This follows the closure of the Mastodon Trail earlier this month.
• A wildfire started in the Denali National Park and Preserve for the first time this year on Wednesday. The Foraker Fire, which was caused by lightning, was first discovered by satellite in the northwest region of the park. The Alaska Fire Service and the National Park Service are monitoring the fire from the air and working to protect structures in the area.
• South of Tok, the Boundary River Fire continues to grow. Now at 6,000 acres, fire crews are working to protect allotments and structures within the area. The lightning-caused fire is anticipated to cross the Nabesna River, having grown approximately 3,000 acres to the north and east on Wednesday.
• The Ninetyeight Creek Fire, a lightning-caused fire burning near Salcha, has additional crews coming in to help with containment efforts. The fire has been mapped at 52 acres.
Despite the high temperatures and dry conditions, crews were able to hold the fire in check on Friday, with two helicopters filling buckets of water from the Salcha River. Firefighters also assessed and worked on protection plans for the numerous residences and recreational cabins in the area.
• The Hess Creek Fire, 12 miles northeast of Livengood, has grown to 45,000 acres. A couple of crews have been assigned to the fire with the goal of protecting any mining camps and any other assets.
• In Two Rivers, the Caribou Creek Fire, which started June 16, is 70% contained and the area is being cleaned up. Fire activity is minimal, according to a report from the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.
Contact staff writers Kyrie Long at 459-7510 and Julie Stricker at 459-7532.