Fire status in Glacier National Park continues to evolve as the season progresses. This is a summary update of current visitor services, fire related closures, and a brief snapshot of each fire.
Three large fires are currently burning in Glacier National Park: the Sprague Fire, Adair Peak Fire, and the Elder Creek Fire. All three fires experienced high gusty winds from the east on Sunday evening, with both the Sprague and Adair Peak fires having significant increases in acreage. Fire growth moderated on Monday with lighter winds. Lower temperatures and slightly higher relative humidity is forecast.
The Adair Peak Fire, was started by lightning on August 10, was detected on August 12, is located in a remote area of the park on the south side of Logging Lake, and is 1,335 acres. Structure protection is being implemented for two National Park Service (NPS) cabins located at the head and foot of Logging Lake, along with the Logging Ranger Station. The fire is not posing an immediate threat to any of these structures. An area closure has been implemented for the surrounding area. Fire managers expect the fire behavior to moderate as this fire enters old fire scars, including the 2001 Moose Fire scar.
The Elder Creek Fire lies on the Montana and British Columbia border, and started on the Canadian side on September 2nd. It is currently 1,853 acres, with approximately 80 acres on the US side. Communication between the British Columbia Wildfire Service in Cranbrook and the NPS is ongoing.
The Sprague Fire is now 13,343 acres. Heavy localized smoke is causing a reduction in fire behavior which has allowed firefighters more suppression opportunities. Yesterday two helicopters dipped water out of Lake McDonald and worked to cool the fire in the Mt. Brown area and the ridge above the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Overnight firefighters monitored activity on Snyder Ridge and patrolled the Lake McDonald Lodge complex.
Lake McDonald Lodge closed for the season on August 30th due to air quality concerns. An evacuation notice was issued on September 3rd for the Lake McDonald area due to fire activity, forcing the closure of the Going-to-the-Sun Road between Apgar Village and Logan Pass; concessions operations in the Lake McDonald Lodge area including boat tours and rentals and guided horseback rides have also closed as a result of this evacuation. Horseback rides and boat rentals are still available in the Apgar area and on the east side of the park.
All interpretive programs in the Lake McDonald Lodge and Avalanche areas are cancelled until further notice.
Some trails and backcountry campgrounds are closed due to fire activity. Many areas of the park remain OPEN including some areas of the North Fork, Apgar Village, the Going-to-the-Sun Road between St. Mary and Logan Pass, Granite Park Chalet, Two Medicine, St. Mary, and Many Glacier. Please check the park website for current conditions including closures at https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/conditions.htm
Smoke from all of the fires in Northwest Montana will continue to settle into low-lying areas when air temperatures cool at night and in the early morning hours. Because of the high pressure system, dense smoke is predicted to impact Lake McDonald. Concentration of smoke is expected to increase over the next few days in the Lake McDonald and West Glacier areas. You can monitor current conditions on the park’s webcams at http://go.nps.gov/glacwebcams.
If you encounter smoke while driving, slow down, turn on your headlights, and watch out for people and wildlife.
Montana Wildfire Smoke Updates are available on http://svc.mt.gov/deq/todaysair/. If it’s smoky in one area of the park, there are often other areas of the park with better visibility. Smoke conditions vary in intensity, location and duration with fire activity.