Jul 23 2015

Crews battle Reynolds Creek Fire; Type I team takes over this evening

While we wait for the latest reports on the state of the Reynolds Creek Fire, here’s a good summary of the situation so far . . .

Fueled by high winds and dry conditions, a wildfire is chewing through heavy timber on the east side of Glacier National Park as firefighters and helicopters scramble to contain the blaze that is moving northeast along St. Mary Lake and near Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Roughly 200 personnel and six helicopters are battling the Reynolds Creek Fire, which is burning in a dense, rugged section of forest plagued by beetle kill and a region afflicted with drought conditions. The fire is not contained and remains at 4,000 acres, according to the last estimates from Thursday morning.

A red flag warning was issued Thursday for potentially dangerous weather conditions and extreme fire behavior. Forecasters predicted 20-30 mph wind gusts and low humidity that could cause the wildfire to quickly spread. Relief could arrive this weekend as cool, wet weather sweeps across Northwest Montana, including the high country in Glacier Park.

Read More . . .

See also: Reynolds Creek Fire doubles in size, frying Rose Creek (Hungry Horse News)

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Jul 22 2015

Glacier Park’s Reynolds Creek Fire increases to 4,000 acres

The Reynolds Creek Fire is up to 4,000 acres now. Here is the official press release . . .

Extreme fire behavior continues on the Reynolds Creek Wildland Fire on the east side of Glacier National Park. Additional resources are arriving, including fire crews, helicopters, engines and an interagency incident command team. Due to windy conditions and extreme fire behavior, today’s suppression actions were limited to aerial water drops and some on-the-ground crew work.

The fire is moving northeast and is currently estimated to be 4,000 acres. It is located approximately 10 miles from the St. Mary Visitor Center along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Scattered light rain fell throughout the area, but strong winds and warm temperatures fueled additional acreage. The fire is moving quickly in dry, heavy timber with extreme spread potential. The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning in effect through 9 p.m. tonight for the area. This warning means that critical fire weather conditions exist.

The fire management priorities are safety of public and fire-fighting personnel, protection of property and values at risk, and containment of the fire.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed between the St. Mary entrance on the east side and Big Bend on the west side. The road closure is in response to the fire, firefighter and visitor safety, fire response activities, and park personnel priorities. The duration of the road closure is unknown.

Several evacuations in and around the St. Mary Visitor Center have been implemented as precautionary measures. Glacier County Sheriff’s Office and Blackfeet Law Enforcement have evacuated the west side of Lower St. Mary Lake and may continue with evacuations on the East shore of Lower St. Mary Lake. The townsite of St. Mary is being evaluated for possible evacuation. The National Park Service evacuated the employee housing area and administrative area early this evening.

Within the park, the St. Mary Campground was evacuated this morning, and the Rising Sun Motor Inn, operated by Glacier National Park Lodges, and the Rising Sun Campground were evacuated Tuesday evening. The St. Mary Visitor Center closed to the public at 12 p.m. today and will be used as a fire staging area. The duration of the closure is unknown at this time.

Several backpackers in the vicinity of the fire were located and found to be safe. Additional backpackers were located and will be escorted safely from the area. Park rangers and personnel will continue to search for backcountry hikers in the area to evacuate them and direct them to safety. 

Today several visitors were able to retrieve their vehicles that were left along the Going-to-the-Sun Road yesterday due to fire activity in the area. One vehicle was consumed by the fire.  

The historic Baring Creek Cabin, a National Park Service backcountry cabin, was lost due to the fire. No other structures have been burned, and no injuries have been reported.

All interpretive programs in the St. Mary Valley are cancelled until further notice. There is a temporary flight restriction over the fire area.

Resources from Flathead National Forest, Glacier County, East Glacier, Babb, St Mary, Cutbank, Evergreen, and West Valley Fire Departments, Blackfeet Fire Management, Montana Department of Natural Resources, and Flathead County are assisting Glacier National Park. Glacier County and State of Montana Disaster Emergency Services are also assisting. 

Fire information phone lines have been established at 406-732-7791 and 406-732-7790. An email account has also been established for fire-related inquiries at reynoldscreekfire@gmail.com. The Inciweb website, http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/, is another source of fire information for the Reynolds Creek Wildland Fire.

The fire was first reported at approximately 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday and was located near Grizzly Point, approximately six miles east of Logan Pass. Park dispatch received numerous reports of the fire from shuttle bus drivers, Glacier Boat Company employees, park employees and visitors.

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Jul 22 2015

A history of wildland fire in Glacier Park

Published by under History

Here’s a pretty interesting article posted to the Flathead Beacon that looks back at the history of wildfires in Glacier National Park . . .

Wildfires have played a prominent role in transforming the landscape of Glacier National Park throughout its 105-year history.

The Reynolds Creek Fire serves as the latest reminder of that incendiary influence as it burns over 2,000 acres in the St. Mary area. It’s the largest fire in the park since 2006, when the Red Eagle Fire scorched 34,000 acres.

The barren landscape along Lake McDonald, remnants of the 2003 Roberts Fire, which burned 57,570 acres in one summer, is perhaps the most visible example of fire’s powerful force and lasting effect. The fire was one of six massive blazes that burned more than 136,000 acres of land in Glacier that year, more than 13 percent of the preserve’s 1 million acres.

“The 2003 season is the pinnacle,” said Dennis Divoky, fire ecologist for the park.

But the fires of 2003 are only one chapter in the park’s long history shaped by fire and ash.

Read more . . .

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Jul 22 2015

Rising Sun employees evacuated to tent camp in Coram

A pretty neat story about the evacuation of the Rising Sun Motor Lodge due to the Reynolds Creek Fire . . .

Staff and guests at Rising Sun Motor Inn were able evacuate in about 15 minutes Tuesday as the Reynolds Creek Fire blossomed in Glacier National Park.

Glacier Park Lodges general manager Marc Ducharme said about 60 employees were loaded onto red buses and taken out of the valley. About 150 guests were also evacuated, given refunds for their rooms and a list of other hotels they could stay at in the area.

“It took about 15 minutes,” he said.

Read more . . .

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Jul 22 2015

Glacier Park’s Baring Creek Cabin lost in Reynolds Creek Fire; fire now 4,000 acres

Glacier National Park representatives announced this evening that the historic Baring Creek Cabin, a National Park Service backcountry cabin, was lost due to the Reynolds Creek Fire. No other structures have been burned and no injuries have been reported.

The fire is now estimated to cover 4,000 acres, more than six square miles.

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Jul 22 2015

Reynolds Creek Fire: more evacuations ordered

Smoke from Reynolds Creek Fire, July 22, 2015

Smoke from Reynolds Creek Fire, July 22, 2015

Here is the latest press release from Glacier National Park on the Reynolds Creek Fire. Note the expanded evacuation orders . . .

Officials at Glacier National Park report that fire conditions and forecasted winds have prompted additional precautionary evacuations of the St. Mary area within Glacier National Park. These evacuations include the St. Mary Visitor Center and National Park Service administrative area. The St. Mary Campground, Rising Sun Campground, and the Rising Sun Motor Inn were previously evacuated.

Evacuations for areas adjacent to the park boundary were ordered by the Glacier County Sherriff and Blackfeet Emergency Services.

The wind-driven fire is moving quickly in dry, heavy timber and extreme fire behavior is reported. The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. today for Glacier National Park. This warning means that critical fire weather conditions are anticipated, including strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures, factors contributing to the rapid fire growth.

At last report, the fire was estimated to be 2,000 acres. The fire management priorities are safety of public and fire-fighting personnel, protection of property and values at risk, and containment of the fire. A Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed between the St. Mary entrance on the east side and Big Bend on the west side. The road closure is in response to the fire, firefighter and visitor safety, fire response activities, and park personnel priorities. The duration of the road closure is unknown.

Resources from Flathead National Forest, Glacier County, East Glacier, Babb, St Mary, and Cutbank, Fire Departments, Blackfeet Fire Management, Montana Department of Natural Resources, Evergreen and West Valley Fire Departments and Flathead County are assisting Glacier National Park.

Fire information phone lines have been established at (406)732-7791 and (406) 732-7790.

The fire was first reported at approximately 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday and was located near Grizzly Point, approximately six miles east of Logan Pass. Park dispatch received numerous reports of the fire from shuttle bus drivers, Glacier Boat Company employees, park employees and visitors.

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Jul 22 2015

Reynolds Creek Fire now has ‘InciWeb’ page

Smoke from Reynolds Creek Fire, July 22, 2015

Smoke from Reynolds Creek Fire, July 22, 2015

The Reynolds Creek Fire in Glacier National Park now has an official Incident Information System (InciWeb) web page at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4405/. This a sort of online bulletin board for fire information, including reports, photos and maps. It is usually updated at least twice a day.

Here is the text of the current incident overview . . .

The Reynolds Creek fire was reported at approximately 3:45p.m. on Tuesday, July, 21, and is located near Grizzly Point, approximately six miles east of Logan Pass. Current fire management priorities are firefighter and public safety, protection of property and values at risk, and containment of the fire. A Type 1 Incident Management Team is enroute.

Fire conditions have prompted precautionary evacuations of the St. Mary area within Glacier National Park. The evacuations include the St. Mary Visitor Center and National Park Service administrative area. The St. Mary Campground, Rising Sun Campground, and the Rising Sun Motor Inn were previously evacuated. Evacuations for areas adjacent to the park boundary were ordered by Glacier County Sheriff and Blackfeet Emergency Services.

The wind-driven fire is moving quickly in dry, heavy timber and extreme fire behavior is reported. The fire is approximately 2,000 acres.

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag warning from 3:00p.m. to 9:00p.m. today for Glacier National Park. This warning means that critical fire weather conditions are anticipated, including strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures, factors contributing to the rapid fire growth.

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Jul 22 2015

Glacier Park scrambles to deal with Reynolds Creek Fire

Here’s another press release from Glacier Park about the Reynolds Creek Fire. Evacuations continue for campgrounds, lodgings and in the backcountry in affected areas of the park, as well as just-in-case planning for evacuations in the St. Mary area. The fire is up to 2,000 acres, probably more by now.

Firefighters and fire-fighting resources continue to respond to the Reynolds Creek Wildland Fire on the east side of Glacier National Park. At this time, the fire is estimated to be approximately 2,000 acres.  The fire management priorities are safety of public and fire-fighting personnel, protection of property and values at risk, and containment of the fire.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed between the St. Mary entrance on the east side and Big Bend on the west side. The road closure is in response to the fire, firefighter and visitor safety, fire response activities, and park personnel priorities. The duration of the road closure is unknown.

The St. Mary Campground is being evacuated. The campground has approximately 148 sites.  The Rising Sun Motor Inn, operated by Glacier National Park Lodges, and the Rising Sun Campground were evacuated Tuesday evening.

The St. Mary Visitor Center will close to the public at 12 p.m. today, Wednesday, July 22. It will be used as a fire staging area. The duration of the closure is unknown at this time.

Park rangers and personnel are searching for backcountry hikers in the area to evacuate them and direct them to safety.  The parking areas of the St. Mary Visitor Center and the Apgar Visitor Center have been established as gathering areas for park visitors that may have been separated from their group.

The park is assisting visitors retrieve their vehicles that were left along the Going-to-the-Sun Road yesterday due to fire activity in the area. One vehicle was consumed by the fire.

The fire is moving quickly in heavy timber with extreme spread potential. The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning in effect from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. today for Glacier National Park. This warning means that critical fire weather conditions are anticipated, including strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures. These conditions may create explosive fire growth potential.

Preplanning is being conducted for possible evacuation in the St. Mary area.  National Park Service personnel are working in cooperation with Glacier County Sheriff’s Office and Blackfeet Emergency Management.

All interpretive programs in the St. Mary Valley are cancelled until further notice. There is a temporary flight restriction over the fire area.

An interagency incident command team has been ordered and will arrive this afternoon. Resources from Flathead National Forest, Glacier County, East Glacier, Babb, St Mary, and Cutbank, Fire Departments, Blackfeet Fire Management, Montana Department of Natural Resources, Evergreen and West Valley Fire Departments and Flathead County are assisting Glacier National Park.

A fire information phone line has been established at 406-732-7791.

The fire was first reported at approximately 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday and was located near Grizzly Point, approximately six miles east of Logan Pass. Park dispatch received numerous reports of the fire from shuttle bus drivers, Glacier Boat Company employees, park employees and visitors.

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Jul 22 2015

Reynolds Creek Fire at 2,000 acres; more evacuations and closings

Glacier National Park has their hands full with the Reynolds Creek Fire. It is now at 2,000+ acres and rates a Type I management team . . .

A rapidly spreading wildfire in Glacier National Park has now covered 2,000 acres and burned a car left by a visitor on Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Another campground is being evacuated this morning, and pre-planning is underway for the possible eventual evacuation of the community of St. Mary.

“The fire is moving quickly in heavy timber with extreme spread potential,” said Glacier Park spokeswoman Denise Germann.

Read more (with photos) . . .

Smoke at St. Mary Entrance to GNP

Smoke at St. Mary Entrance to GNP

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Jul 22 2015

Montana Governor, Feds sign sage grouse conservation deal

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

A little more progress on sage grouse conservation . . .

Gov. Steve Bullock signed an agreement Monday with the U.S. Department of Agriculture pledging cooperation on efforts to protect declining populations of greater sage grouse.

The agreement signed at the Capitol in Helena calls for state, federal and local officials to meet annually to discuss sage grouse conservation. It includes no new spending or regulations.

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Jason Weller said the agreement should help streamline and coordinate sage grouse conservation efforts on private land in the state. Seventy percent of sage grouse habitat in Montana is on private or state lands.

Read more . . .

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