AP NEWS

Howe Ridge Fire within 150 feet of Going-to-the-Sun Road

August 28, 2018

Despite a soaking rain that dropped up to half an inch of moisture across Northwest Montana from Sunday afternoon through Monday morning, the Howe Ridge Fire in Glacier National Park has burned to within 150 feet of Going-to-Sun Road.

According to information from the park, crews have maintained extensive sprinkler systems at the Upper McDonald Creek stockbridge, throughout the Avalanche developed area, at the Red Rocks overlook and at the Logan Creek patrol cabin, in case the fire spots across the road. In addition, an extensive sprinkler system was placed along the Upper McDonald Creek trails, with the goal of containing that edge of the fire before it reaches Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Fish Creek Campground remains closed and will not reopen this year.

Glacier has also, at the recommendation of the Southwest Area Type 1 Incident Management Team, lifted the evacuation warning that was in place for the Apgar and Grist Road areas of the park.

Trails along the Camas Road will reopen with the exception of trails off of McGee Meadow.

Firefighters have completed significant work to reinforce containment lines on the south side of the fire. As the recent rainfall has moderated fire activity, the park has removed these areas from warning status.

As of noon on Tuesday, an evacuation order remained in effect between the foot of Lake McDonald and Logan Pass along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Other park roads including the Going-to-the-Sun Road between St. Mary and Logan Pass remained open.

At the recommendation of the incident management team, the park is planning to lift the evacuation warning for the area north of the Bowman Lake Road junction with the Inside North Fork Road. The warning was put in place due to Whale Butte Fire activity, currently burning on Flathead National Forest land adjacent to the park boundary. Containment lines along the Whale Butte fire were holding and recent moisture has moderated fire activity.

Trail closures were still in place Tuesday in the northeast Goat Haunt area of the park due to the Boundary Fire burning in the park along the Canadian border. Boat tours operated by Waterton Shoreline Cruise Company were once again landing at Goat Haunt. Visitors were limited to the boat dock pavilion and restroom area, and notified that firefighters and structural protection equipment such as hoses would be in place.

While the Sun Road and nearby facilties could be affected, the rain was a welcome sight for those affected by the smoke from a number of wildfires burning in the region for the last month.

Gusty winds produced by the cold front Sunday moved smoke out of the Flathead Valley that had permeated the region for a number of weeks.

Most fire activity slowed as well, giving firefighters a chance to work on improving fire lines.

The cool and wet weather slowed fire activity on the Boundary Fire. The Type 1 team planned to place equipment to support radio communications in the area Tuesday, and firefighters intended to take advantage of the cooler weather to assess the fire and develop plans, as a warming trend was expected later in the week. Structure protection remained in place at Goat Haunt.

Glacier National Park and most of western Montana were under Stage 2 Fire Restrictions Tuesday. No campfires were permitted in Glacier’s frontcountry or backcountry. Smoking was 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 were permitted.

A small chance of rain across the northern part of the Flathead was predicted for Thursday with wind gusts up to 20 mph. The weather was predicted to be rather benign for the next several days, with highs in the low 70s and lows in the lower 40s.

Most of Glacier National Park, the Flathead National Forest and tourism opportunities throughout northwest Montana were open and operating as usual Tuesday.

A temporary flight restriction was in effect in the fire area.

The smoke outlook for northwest Montana is available at: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/NWMontana

Reporter Scott Shindledecker can be reached at (406) 758-4441 or sshindledecker@dailyinterlake.com.

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