GLACIER NATIONAL PARK – The brief rain showers that fell in Glacier National Park on Monday did little to slow the growth of the Howe Ridge fire burning on the west side of Park.
The blaze has burned just over 7,800 acres, destroyed several buildings and forced evacuations at the height of tourism season. Reporter Nicole Miller spoke with a fire meteorologist on Monday to get an idea on the weather conditions they will be facing this week.
“We did get lightning last night. We got about eight-to-10 strikes. From what I understand there were some new starts in the Park. We got some more strikes — three or four down to the south of us as well,” Type 1 Incident Management Team meteorologist Bob Tobin said.
Tobin added that crews are on the lookout for new fire starts and were also bracing for more strong winds as well as possible thunderstorms.
“The winds are going to be fairly strong gusting up to 30-to-35 [mph] on the ridgetops and that is definitely going to push the fire around. But not as bad as if we were warm and dry,” Tobin said.
Tobin says warmer dryer weather is expected to return Tuesday but for now, a cooler weather system will result in slower fire activity.
“Precipitation and higher relative humidities cooler temperatures are going to help mitigate some of those strong winds,” Tobin said. “It’s not going to be any kind of ending event but it will slow down things slightly and they will have to deal with the wind when it comes in but it should help a bit.”
Firefighters spent Monday taking advantage of the cooler weather to lay hose and set up sprinklers systems to limit fire spread towards the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
- The Fish Creek Campground area
- North Lake McDonald road (private residences and the Lake McDonald Ranger Station)
- Lake McDonald Lodge area (all businesses, employees, and private residences), private residences along the
- Going-to-the-Sun Road
- Sprague Creek Campground
- Avalanche Campground
Road and Trail Closures:
- The Going-to-the-Sun Road between the foot of Lake McDonald (near Apgar) and Logan Pass.
- The Inside North Fork Road
- The Fish Creek Road
- Multiple trail closures are associated with this fire
- All trails off of the Camas Road are closed.
Glacier National Park and most of western Montana are under Stage II Fire Restrictions. No campfires will be permitted in Glacier’s frontcountry or backcountry. Smoking is also prohibited except within an enclosed building, vehicle, developed recreation area, or barren area three feet in diameter.
A recorded fire update can be found at (406) 888-7077.
Reporting by Nicole Miller for MTN News