Officials Lift Evacuation Watch For Portion Of Chena Hot Springs Road

Officials monitoring the more than 85,000 acre Stuart Creek 2 Fire burning northeast of Fairbanks have lifted an evacuation watch between mileposts 16 and 27 along Chena Hot Springs Road.

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Mark Hollen is a spokesman with the Bureau of Land Management’s Alaska Fire Service. He says an evacuation watch for residents living between mile posts 27 and 39 is still in place.

“I wouldn’t want them to let their guard down,” Hollen said. “We hope given the forecasting for the weather this week, we’re gonna get lower temperatures, higher humidities and possibly some rain showers.”

Hollen says residents in Two Rivers and Pleasant Valley should remain prepared in the event of an emergency.

Nearly 700 firefighters and personnel are still battling the blaze.

“It’s a mixture of everything there is to fight a fire,” Hollen said. “There are water tenders, people hauling water to sites where there is hose laid down,  so that crews can put water on the fire or fire lines, you have crews that are digging line, caterpillar tractor drivers, people feeding these folks, just everything that would need to be there to fight a fire.”

Due to dry and windy weather, spot fires have flared up and crossed the South Fork of the Chena River over the last few days. Hollen says that kind of activity is expected, but he says fighting spot fires is challenging.

“Because when you get spot fires, they burn erratically, you don’t know – material came from the main fire, and they are super heated and winds drive materials like limbs and brush out ahead of the fire,” Hollen said. “They can go a long ways, a surprisingly long ways and when they hit something flammable, they catch that on fire.”

Thick smoke associated with spot fires makes them difficult to fight. Hollen says spot fires that are burning in the area, are still a good distance from the road. A few spot fires are burning within the State’s Chena Recreation Area. One is burning along Marten Creek near the State’s Nugget Creek Cabin. Hollen says officials with State Parks haven’t reported any damage, but the fate of the cabin is unclear.

Firefighters report 57 percent containment.