Residents gather to ask questions and get updated information on Minto Lakes Fire
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - With the Minto Lakes Fire continuing to grow, a meeting was held Wednesday at the Ken Kunkel Community Park in Goldstream Valley to address questions and gather up-to-date information.
The Minto Lakes Fire is currently burning between Washington Creek and the Chatanika River. As of Thursday, the fire sits at 20,250 acres and is growing.
During the meeting, incident commanders and support personnel spoke with members of the community to give an overall look at the situation.
”A good indication of what fire expectations are going to be are where fires have come down into these lower areas and into these drainages and these creeks, they come down into these areas and they loose stream,” said Teo Fusco, Wildland Fire and Resource Technician for the State of Alaska Forestry Division out of Fairbanks.
He added that south of that area, which he referred to as the “heel,” there is a series of lakes on the Minto Flats that separates it from the Goldstream area.
Structures along the Chatanika drainage are the focal point in the operation. Currently, the fire is working its way along the Washington River corridor and has continued to burn up along the river where there is fuel - trees, grass, timber, etc. - on both sides of the drainage.
Fire crews are using The Chatanika as a natural fire break, and as boats are available they plan to transport crews up the Chatanika River Corridor to support preparing and assessing structures.
“We are putting up our plans along this corridor because with people in the place, if anything was to spot out we could immediately address that situation,” Fusco added. “So we feel like we have a high success rate of holding this line on the Chatanika River Corridor. Then, if it does go across into the Shovel Creek, it’s not going to have a high rate of spread because of the fresh burn - so I don’t anticipate making any significant runs if it got there before we could address it. "
Officials say there is a potential for the fire to go over the hill - and with a one-way road in and out of the area, they want to have people out of there well in advance.
On Tuesday the Fairbanks North Star Borough emergency management sent out a Level 3 Evacuation for the end of Murphy Dome road to the area west of Murphy Creek along the Chatanika river corridor, requesting that those in the area evacuate immediately.
The agencies have also requested additional crews to help with the fire. They have placed orders for between four and six crews at 20 to 25 people each. They have received three 10-person crews, and as of Thursday the Northern Rocky Mountain Type 2 Incident Command Team started shadowing the Central Oregon Fire Management Type 3 Team, adding to the resources to help fight this fire.
There are currently over 200 personnel working on the Minto Lakes Fire. Ted Adams, Incident Commander Trainee, with the Central Oregon Type 3 Team said, “With the influx of additional help and logistical support from the Northern Rockies Team, we are looking to open up old dozer lines in advance of the Himalaya and Hayes Creek Subdivisions.”
With anticipated growth toward the subdivisions given the current weather outlook, crews are hoping to use a dozer along burn scar lines from the Hastings Fire of 2011 to advance in front of the subdivisions. Currently, the fire is over eight miles from the subdivisions.
According to a recent update on the fire from Alaska’s Wildland Information webpage, crews have made progress on securing and assessing allotments to the west of the fire. The fire dropped off the ridgeline north of the Chatanika River Wednesday, and as crews work their way through the area, they continue to assess and prepare recreational structures.
Due to hot, dry weather in combination with an increased possibility of lighting and windier conditions expected Friday, personnel handling the Minto Lakes fire want the public to be alter to the evolving conditions and to be aware of the potential risks and hazards that come with a fire so close in proximity to property and highways.
The teams are working to get air support prepares as the air clears, stating they will have multiple scoopers, two helicopters, and air attack plans as needed.
“Pay attention to the public information that is being provided for the fire updates as well as driving responsibly due to the increase in traffic,” Adams said. “Not only fire, but recreational users. Grant us the grace to operate. We are here for you and it is a public service. We want to do the best that we can, but our priority is safety for everybody involved - not just firefighters. As these roads get more and more traffic on them, it is the most dangerous thing to do, to just drive around. I would ask the public to be courteous and drive slow and safe, especially as smoke comes in.”
For those who are prompted to evacuate, the Fairbanks North Star Borough Emergency Management team is working to set up an emergency shelter at Randy Smith Middle School.
Evacuation and emergency shelter information can be tracked at the Fairbanks North Star Borough website: https://www.fnsb.gov
Receive FNSB Emergency Alerts via text message by texting: FNSBWildFire2022 to 67283
To learn more on Evacuation Levels: https://www.fnsb.gov/DocumentCenter/View/9917/2022-Wildland-Fire-Evacuation-Guidepdf
Fairbanks North Star Borough Air Quality Information: www.fnsb.gov/aq
Information on the Minto Lakes Fire can be found at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/8182/
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