Friday, August 7, 2015

(Final?) Glacier National Park Wildfire Update

The Inciweb website has just published what they are calling their final update on the Reynolds Creek Fire burning in Glacier National Park. In this morning's new release, the wildfire tracking website stated that "This will be the last update for the Reynolds Creek Fire unless significant activity occurs."

Here are a few items of significance from the update:

 * A warming and drying trend is moving into the area bringing higher temperatures and lower humidity. Winds will be fairly light out of the west, southwest. A slow burn of ground fuels will continue in the Rose Creek drainage area as fuels dry out. Pockets of unburned fuel will continue to burn out as fuels continue to dry out and become receptive to heat. Crews continue securing control lines and mopping up along the fire’s perimeter. This entails extinguishing or removing burning material near control lines and felling snags. Excess equipment and hose is also being removed.

 * The Reynolds Creek Fire in Glacier National Park burned thousands of trees along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The roots of many of these trees were severely burned, making the trees likely to fall on the road with the next stiff breeze. Trees adjacent to the road were sized up by resource advisors, who carefully selected which trees needed to be felled to create safe travel for park visitors. The downed trees were cut into short lengths, loaded into dump trucks and taken to a site on Blackfeet tribal lands near St. Mary, Montana. As cooperators, Park officials and Blackfeet representatives mutually agreed that the best use of the wood would be to make it available for the Blackfeet Nation Senior Firewood Program.

Inciweb has warned that fire and smoke will be visible in the burned area and up the Rose Creek Drainage until a season-ending event, such as the first snow of the season.

 * The official size of the fire is now estimated to be 4311 acres. The fire remains at 67% containment. It's believed at this time that the fire was human caused, and is under investigation. Inciweb is also reporting that two structures have been lost, one of which is the Baring Creek Cabin, but I'm still not sure of the other at this point.

* The number of personnel fighting the fire is down to 299.

* The Going-to-the-Sun Road is now open - with limitations - more details on the opening is here.

* The Sperry Trail is open from Lake McDonald Lodge to Sperry Chalet and Gunsight Pass. Travel beyond the pass is closed due to the fire. Lake Ellen Wilson Backcountry site is open. The Loop Trail to Granite Park Chalet is also open.

* Also, the Red Eagle Drainage is open for hiking access to Red Eagle Lake, Triple Divide and the Beaver Ponds. St. Mary Lake Trail will remain closed.

Although the fire continues to burn in the St. Mary Valley, the rest of the park is still open, with tons of outstanding hiking opportunities available. Remember, the park is more than one million acres in size. The Two Medicine, Many Glacier, Belly River, Bowman Lake and Lake McDonald areas all provide hikes that offer epic Glacier National Park scenery. For more information on many of the hikes in these areas, please click here.


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