Bernie Karl, owner of Chena Hot Springs Resort, didn’t evacuate. Most of his guests didn’t leave, either. And although he lost 1,500 acres of his property to wildfire around the resort, the world-famous destination establishment is safe. The horses are safe. The dogs are happy. Karl says in future years, the morels will be in plentiful supply in the burned out acres.
The Munson Creek Fire came as close as 300 feet of the resort at one point, but Karl was ready with his own fire trucks, water tanks, and earth-moving equipment.
“I’m so thankful that everything worked out the way it did. I’m a strong believer that you should not wait on government to help. You’d better be proactive,” he said. All the investment he has made over the years in equipment and metal roofs were for times like these.
According to the Division of Forestry, the “Go” evacuation level in place for Chena Hot Springs Resort and residences along Chena Hot Springs Road from Mile 48 to Mile 56.5 for the past week has been reduced to a “Set.”
The “Set” evacuation level means people can remain but should be prepared to leave their home immediately. Few people evacuated the resort or any of the residences along the road during the fire and both the resort and road remained open but the reduced evacuation level is a sign that the fire no longer poses a major threat, the Division reported.
Photo: Chena Hot Springs Resort owner Bernie Karl discusses the Munson Creek Fire with Gov. Mike Dunleavy.