WEST GLACIER – There’s been little growth on the 2,600 acre Howe Ridge fire burning in Glacier National Park even after fire activity increased on Tuesday.
An evacuation order on the west side of the park remains in place. The blaze, which exploded Sunday evening, has already destroyed several cabins and other structures in the area of Lake McDonald.
Fire managers report that poor visibility on Tuesday didn’t allow the “super scoopers” to work on the blaze, however, a helicopter was able to effectively cool spot fires and slow the fire’s growth.
Glacier National Park spokeswoman Lauren Alley says that fire behavior is expected to be more active on Wednesday with increased winds and the potential of smoke lifting earlier in the day.
Alley adds that aircraft will work to extinguish spot fires and cool the head of the fire towards Stanton Mountain. Structure protection is the priority for ground crews and firefighters will continue to mop up hot spots along the North Lake McDonald Road.
Growth is expected on all sides of the fire today and the terrain continues to be a hazard to firefighters on the ground due to the potential of falling large trees. Alley added that crews heard gunfire-like sounds of snags crashing down throughout the night.
The Apgar area has been placed on “Ready” status meaning that residents and visitors show get prepared now in case a later evacuation order is issued.
Area closures and evacuations remain in place:
Avalanche Campground and Avalanche Campground
North Lake McDonald Road (private residences and the Lake McDonald Ranger Station)
Lake McDonald Lodge Complex (all businesses, employees, and private residences)
Private residences along the Going-to-the-Sun Road
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed between the foot of Lake McDonald and Logan Pass. The road remains open between St. Mary and Logan Pass. Apgar Village, Apgar Campground and Fish Creek campground remain open. However, the Inside North Fork road is closed and multiple trail closures are in place as a result of the fire, The Loop trail is also closed.
A Type I team from the Southwest has arrived for an in-briefing and will assume control of the fire later in the week.
Glacier National Park is under Stage II Fire Restrictions. No campfires are allowed and smoking is prohibited except within an enclosed building, vehicle, developed recreation area, or barren area three feet in diameter.
A Fire Information Line with updated recorded information remains in place at (406) 888-7077. There are currently no fire-related closures on the east side of Glacier National Park.