GLACIER NATIONAL PARK – The Sprague Fire in Glacier National Park destroyed one of the park’s most iconic chalets.
MTN News talked with Flathead Valley photographer Brett Bouda, who may have taken the last pictures of the Sperry Chalet standing.
“We try to go to Sperry Chalet every year, it’s difficult to get a night. Five weeks ago we had two nights schedules,” said Bouda who had no way of knowing those two nights would be the last ones.
Bouda has been capturing Glacier National Park through photos since 2004, but this year he says the rich amount of blooming beargrass is what captured him.
“I have seen beargrass throughout the park in different places but this year was really unique. The richness of the Beargrass was really unimaginable,” Bouda said.
The photographer spent hours shooting the rustic lodge from every angle enshrouded in beargrass — not knowing that just weeks later the historical treasure would burn in the Sprague Fire.
“We had a strong westerly wind that gave the fire enough oxygen and pushed it in an uncontrollable manner, explained National Weather Service Incident Meteorologist Phil Manuel.
“There was no way of stopping that fire, it ran up through that drainage, the Sperry Drainage, and of course the ember showers and everything that came from that compromised the chalet,” Manuel added.
An independent investigation into the disaster was launched by U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke who also announced that rebuilding the Sperry Chalet is one of his top priorities.
For Bouda the moment he captured will be how he forever remembers the last time he saw the Sperry Chalet.
“I spent two hours walking around the Chalet from different spots taking different shots of the Chalet just in case we ever need them,” Bouda said. “It was fortunate. I would almost call it divine — it was meant to be.”
MTN’s Nicole Miller