The now 20,801-acre Berry Fire exhibited extreme fire behavior Sunday due to red flag conditions with very low relative humidity and strong winds gusting to 40 mph for more than six hours. Winds pushed the fire across Hwy. 89/191/287 both to the south and the north of Headwaters Lodge at Flagg Ranch, prompting the closure of the highway, which remains closed today.
The fire made a six-mile run and impacted two 1 ½ mile stretches of the highway, which will require crews to take suppression actions and remove hazard trees for public safety before reopening the road. An evacuation order remains in effect for Flagg Ranch, Sheffield Campground on the Bridger-Teton National Forest and the South Entrance Gate of Yellowstone National Park. These areas were already under an evacuation advisory since Aug. 30.
Reopening the highway is a high priority for fire managers, who will reassess the conditions until it is deemed safe for public travel. Similar weather conditions on Aug. 22 also prompted the closure of Hwy. 89/191/287, which remained closed for eight days.
Fire crews worked through the night and implemented structure protection tactics already in place. No structures were burned. The Western and Southern Wyoming Type 3 Incident Management Team, Incident Commander Steve Markason, is managing the fire on behalf of Grand Teton National Park.
Since the Berry Fire's discovery on July 25, Grand Teton National Park (GRTE) has managed the fire for ecological benefits. The lightning fire started near Berry and Owl creeks on the west side of Jackson Lake. Fire management objectives include protecting public, park, and forest infrastructure;while monitoring the fire as it fulfills its natural role on the landscape.
Crews last night initiated the structure protection plan that was already in place.
Fire behavior moderated greatly today due to cooler, damper weather that is forecast for the next three days. The incident management team ordered additional resources that arrived last night and today to help protect developed areas. Currently, 172 people are assigned to the Berry Fire. Fire information is available at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4954/ or www.tetonfires.com or by calling 307.739.3566 or 307.701-0841.