On Thursday, the Alaska National Guard deployed two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter aircrews, from 1st Battalion, 297th Aviation, to perform water drops over the Montana Creek Fire south of Talkeetna. (Video courtesy of Spec. Michael Pearson.)
The fire did not grow significantly on Friday and was estimated at 344 acres. It was 10 percent contained, and the size is expected to grow. It’s burning 13 miles south of Talkeetna and three miles east of the Parks Highway around Mile 96.
According to the State of Alaska Wildfire Information page:
A dozer line was completed on the north side of the fire on Friday and the University of Fairbanks Type 2 crew laid hose around that section of the line to begin mop-up operations.
The White Mountain Type 2 Initial Attack Crew from Fairbanks arrived at the fire on Friday and began working with the Baker River Interagency Hotshot Crew to laying hose on the south end of the fire. The dozer line and hose lay should be completed around the entire perimeter by the end of shift today. Mop-up operations on the southern perimeter will proceed once the dozer line and hose lay are complete.
Structure protection assessment and preparations have been completed and the Structure Protection Group which includes a strike team of four engines from the Alaska Division of Forestry, a task force from Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson(JBER), and engines and tactical water tenders from Matanuska-Susitna Borough fire departments will remain in place to support the suppression operations.
There are 104 people working on the fire with an additional crew in route to the fire on Saturday, and another crew coming in to assist with with mop-up. Despite the hot, dry conditions, minimal fire behavior was observed on Friday. The fire was mostly creeping and smoldering on the surface with occasional single-tree and group tree torching.
Given the hot, dry conditions, fire managers’ primary concern is a north wind pushing the fire south across the containment line into thick and continuous black spruce.
Twenty-nine residences closest to the fire remain in a “Level 1: Ready” evacuation status. This is not an evacuation order but a notice that there is a threat in the area and people should be aware that an evacuation may become necessary at some point in the future.