Extreme fire behavior continues on the Reynolds Creek Wildland Fire on the east side of Glacier National Park. Additional resources are arriving, including fire crews, helicopters, engines and an interagency incident command team. Due to windy conditions and extreme fire behavior, today’s suppression actions were limited to aerial water drops and some on-the-ground crew work.
The fire management priorities are safety of public and fire-fighting personnel, protection of property and values at risk, and containment of the fire.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed between the St. Mary entrance on the east side and Big Bend on the west side. The road closure is in response to the fire, firefighter and visitor safety, fire response activities, and park personnel priorities. The duration of the road closure is unknown.
Several evacuations in and around the St. Mary Visitor Center have been implemented as precautionary measures. Glacier County Sheriff’s Office and Blackfeet Law Enforcement have evacuated the west side of Lower St. Mary Lake and may continue with evacuations on the East shore of Lower St. Mary Lake. The townsite of St. Mary is being evaluated for possible evacuation. The National Park Service evacuated the employee housing area and administrative area early this evening.
Within the park, the St. Mary Campground was evacuated this morning, and the Rising Sun Motor Inn, operated by Glacier National Park Lodges, and the Rising Sun Campground were evacuated Tuesday evening. The St. Mary Visitor Center closed to the public at 12 p.m. today and will be used as a fire staging area. The duration of the closure is unknown at this time.
Several backpackers in the vicinity of the fire were located and found to be safe. Additional backpackers were located and will be escorted safely from the area. Park rangers and personnel will continue to search for backcountry hikers in the area to evacuate them and direct them to safety.
Today several visitors were able to retrieve their vehicles that were left along the Going-to-the-Sun Road yesterday due to fire activity in the area. One vehicle was consumed by the fire.
The historic Baring Creek Cabin, a National Park Service backcountry cabin, was lost due to the fire. No other structures have been burned, and no injuries have been reported.
All interpretive programs in the St. Mary Valley are cancelled until further notice. There is a temporary flight restriction over the fire area.
Below is some fairly dramatic video footage taken by a park visitor today:
Resources from Flathead National Forest, Glacier County, East Glacier, Babb, St Mary, Cutbank, Evergreen, and West Valley Fire Departments, Blackfeet Fire Management, Montana Department of Natural Resources, and Flathead County are assisting Glacier National Park. Glacier County and State of Montana Disaster Emergency Services are also assisting.
Fire information phone lines have been established at 406-732-7791 and 406-732-7790.