Shovel Creek Fire

A firefighter holds the line just off of the Bennet Highway (aka 14 Mile Trail). A firing operation was utilized to keep the Shovel Creek Fire from moving to the south and east. Photo taken from on Saturday, June 29, 2019.

Updated 12:25 a.m.: Residents of two subdivisions near the Shovel Creek Fire were told to evacuate just after midnight today.

The evacuation order affects the Martin and Perfect Perch subdivisions and these roads: Rocky Mountain Road, Catskill Court,  Cumberland Court, Wind River Road, Yosemite Court, Ozark Court, Matterhorn Drive, Murphy Dome Road near Old Murphy Dome Road, Desperation Loop, Old Murphy Dome Road (from Murphy Dome to Spinach Creek), Perfect Perch.

Lincoln, McCloud and Murphy subdivisions are under Level 2 evacuation alerts.

A community meeting is planned for 6 p.m. today, June 30, at Ken Kunkel Community Center, 2645 Goldstream Road.

An emergency shelter has been opened at Randy Smith Middle School, 1401 Bainbridge Boulevard. People and animals are also welcome at the Tanana Valley Fairgrounds.

The Martin and Perfect Perch subdivisions consist of about 52 buildings surrounded by black spruce.

Two more subdivisions near the Shovel Creek Fire were advised to prepare for evacuation on Saturday. Residents of the Martin and Perfect Perch subdivisions were advised to be prepared to go at a moment's notice under the Level 2 evacuation alert, according to an alert broadcast by the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

The following streets are affected: Cascade Road, Grand Teton Road, Mesa Court, High Sierra Drive, Old Murphy Dome Road, Wind River Road, Appalachian Court, Rocky Mountain, Catskill Court, Cumberland Court, Yosemite Court, Ozark Court, Matterhorn Drive, Smokey Mountain Road, Winchester Road, Bristol Bay Road, Old Murphy Dome Road (between Murphy Dome Road and Spinach Creek Road) and Desperation Loop.

On Friday, residents of the Lincoln Creek subdivision were notified to prepare for evacuation. Residents were told to pack a seven-day bag and gather essentials such as pets, prescriptions and important documents should evacuation become necessary. 

Crews continued to battle the blaze on several fronts, as the Shovel Creek Fire grew to 3,424 acres by Saturday morning, a more than 1,000-acre increase from Friday morning. The fire, which was started by lightning June 21, is located approximately 20 miles west of Fairbanks and 3 miles north of Murphy Dome.

That fire and another one burning east of Fairbanks blanketed the region with smoke Saturday as temperatures soared into the upper 80s.

To see the forecast for smoke, visit

The Nugget Creek Fire is located in the Chena River State Recreation Area about 35 miles east of Fairbanks. Management of the fire had been under the purview of the Alaska Type 2 Incident Management Team for the past week but was returned to the Alaska Division of Forestry’s Fairbanks Area office Saturday.  

On the west side of town, residents near the Shovel Creek Fire in the Chatanika River corridor and the McCloud and Murphy subdivisions remained at a Level 1 alert, which is defined as being aware of wildfire activity in the area and ready for additional fire growth.

"That’s just enough awareness for all Alaskans, or anybody living in an area where wildfire is a potential. At this time of the year that’s an important thing for everybody to be mindful of," Alaska Incident Management Team spokesman Chris Barth said by phone Saturday afternoon. 

Fire crews on the Shovel Creek Fire began firing operations Friday, burning fuels between the fire and the west side of 7 Mile Trail. They were able to connect to the northeast corner of the fire and crews continued Saturday to work on the northern portion, particularly in the area near the Chatanika River.

"The operation is going as expected for today. With the hot, dry weather they’re very alert to conditions as they continue to change throughout the afternoon, and are prepared for those things," Barth said.

The Nugget Creek Fire had burned 1,688 acres as of Saturday afternoon. Crews completed structure protection on a public-use cabin in the area and were focusing on keeping the fire south of the Chena River and Chena Hot Springs Road, according to an update on the Alaska Wildland Fire Information website.

A weather front is expected to bring rain and cooler temperatures Sunday night and Monday morning. Temperatures are forecast to rise starting Thursday and reach a high of 89 degrees Friday and Saturday.  

Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.