Glacier National Park wildfire: Relief coming from weather shift

The National Weather Service says a cold front is expected to sweep in Sunday, bringing cooler temperatures, rain and possibly snow at high elevations in Glacier National Park.

(Brenda Ahearn/The Daily Inter Lake via AP)
The Reynolds Creek Wildland fire burns, Wednesday, July 22, 2015, near East Glacier Park, Mont. A fast-moving wildfire in Glacier National Park torched a car and forced tourists to abandon their vehicles on the Montana park's most popular roadway while officials evacuated hotels, campgrounds and homes.

A cold front is heading toward the Northern Rocky Mountains this weekend, giving firefighters hope for a break from the hot, dry and windy conditions that have hampered their efforts to contain a wildfire burning through Montana's Glacier National Park.

The region is experiencing the severe drought that has stoked other fires across the western U.S., with blazes threatening homes and watersheds in California and Washington state.

The National Weather Service said the front was expected to sweep into the Northern Rockies on Sunday, bringing cooler temperatures, rain and possibly snow at high elevations in Glacier National Park.

That would provide a break for the 300 firefighters trying to stop the blaze from spreading northeast down the Glacier's Going-to-the-Sun Road toward the populated areas at the park's eastern boundary.

"Typically, cooler temperatures and higher humidity help reduce fire spread, but we can't count on that," fire information officer Jennifer Costich said Friday. "We've got to wait and see what it does."

The blaze was active after three straight days of red-flag weather conditions in the parched fire zone. It made short runs toward the mountains, away from the populated areas, while a spot fire broke out in another place where crews were trying to anchor a fire line, Costich said.

The fire has now spread beyond the Rising Sun Motor Inn and campground, which were previously evacuated. No damage had been reported to either as of Friday, but the fire was actively burning in the area, Costich said.

The Montana Standard reports:

As the Reynolds Creek fire in Glacier National Park continued to push north and east, firefighters began construction of a fire line near Two Dog Flats with a goal of completing it around the head of the blaze.

The 4,000-acre fire, which started Tuesday afternoon between Jackson Glacier Overlook and the west end of St. Mary Lake and has been fanned by strong winds from the west, continues to march in the direction of Lower St. Mary Lake, located just outside the park’s boundary north of St. Mary.

The Glacier County Sheriff’s Office and Blackfeet Tribal Law Enforcement have evacuated the west side of Lower St. Mary Lake, authorities say.

The cause of the wildfire, which has shut down 21 miles of Glacier’s popular 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road, is still unknown.

Glacier National Park officials shepherded visitors who had planned to visit the popular sights on the closed portions of the park's main Going-to-the-Sun Road to other areas of the park. They encouraged people with upcoming trips not to cancel their plans.

"The rest of the park is spectacular, it's beautiful and there is no impact whatsoever," park spokeswoman Denise Germann said.

The fire is burning in an estimated 6 square miles — though fire officials said that is a rough estimate — in a park that is more than 1,718 square miles.

Lodging is a problem for those who decide to travel to other places in the park. The parks lodges and cabins have been booked for months, as well as reserved spots in campgrounds.

Each campground has sites that are first-come, first-serve, and there are privately owned campgrounds and hotels just outside the park, Germann said.

Glacier National Park is the 10th-most-visited park in the National Park Service system, despite its remote location.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to