Glacier’s Fish Creek Campground evacuated
Fish Creek Campground in Glacier National Park was evacuated Sunday morning as fire managers braced for heightened activity on the uncontained Howe Ridge Fire.
The lightning-caused fire burning along the north and west shore of Lake McDonald was estimated at 7,835 acres Sunday. The passage of a cold front Sunday night was expected to whip up winds and further expand the fire perimeter.
“This could significantly affect fire behavior on the southern and western flanks of the fire,” the park warned in a media release Sunday.
The evacuation order included Fish Creek Campground along Lake McDonald, including all campers, Park Service employees and the Fish Creek Ranger Station residence. Fish Creek Campground Road was closed from the Camas Road junction.
Fish Creek Campground is the second largest campground in the park, with 178 campsites.
An evacuation warning was issued from the Quarter Circle Bridge Road north. This includes Apgar, the Grist Road and all areas accessed from Quarter Circle Bridge Road. Trails off the Camas Road are now closed.
The park warned that people in Apgar or areas accessed from the Quarter Circle Bridge Road area should be ready to leave but were not being told leave as of Sunday afternoon.
The fire was driven by down-valley winds Saturday night, primarily burning through heavy downfall from the 2003 Robert Fire.
Smoke on Saturday prohibited air resources from dropping water on the fire, but crews on the ground were working around structures in the Fish Creek Campground area and along the Inside North Fork Road to reduce fuels and to set up sprinkler systems.
Structure protection efforts continued along the north end of Lake McDonald, using sprinkler systems around the remaining structures on North Lake McDonald Road. Crews were also installing hoses and sprinklers to minimize potential fire spread towards the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Fire managers will continue to proactively plan for protection of other areas as the fire progresses.
While the weather system moving into the area Sunday night is predicted to bring slightly cooler temperatures, the frontal passage will increase winds and cause shifts in wind directions.
Evacuation orders remain in place for the 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, and Sprague Creek and Avalanche Campgrounds.
Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed between the foot of Lake McDonald and Logan Pass. The Inside North Fork Road and the Fish Creek Road are also closed. The Sun Road is open between St. Mary and Logan Pass on the park’s east side.
Multiple trail closures associated with the fire can be found on the park’s website www.nps.gov/glac.
Glacier National Park and most of western Montana are under Stage 2 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. Propane stoves that have an on/off switch are permitted.
A temporary flight restriction is in effect in the fire area.
Fire information phone options have changed. For a recorded fire update, call (406) 888-7077. For Glacier National Park trip planning information, visit www.nps.gov/glac or call (406) 888-7800.