AP NEWS

Howe Ridge Fire grows to 4,100 acres

August 18, 2018

The Howe Ridge Fire in Glacier National Park continued to move slowly south and west overnight through heavy dead and down forest fuels, primarily from the 2003 Robert Fire, as it grew from 3,500 to 4,100 acres.

Isolated thunderstorms were predicted to develop south and east of the fire area late Saturday, which could cause gusty winds and increases in fire behavior.

A community meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday where fire personnel will present management plans for Whale Butte, Howe Ridge, Coal Ridge and Paola Ridge fires at the Columbia Falls High School in the “little theater.”

Friday, smoke from the fire prohibited planes and helicopters from dropping water on the fire. Structure protection efforts continued along the north end of Lake McDonald, using sprinkler systems around the remaining structures on North Lake McDonald Road.

Crews are 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.

Glacier National Park Lodges, the concessioner that operates Lake McDonald Lodge, has decided to close Lake McDonald Lodge for the rest of the 2018 summer season. Questions about adjustments to reservations should be directed to 855-733-4522. Privately owned Motel Lake McDonald has also closed for the season. Reservation holders should contact 1-844-868-7474.

Guided horse-back rides and boat tour operations in the Lake McDonald Lodge area are suspended until further notice. Commercial visitor services in most areas of the park remain open including Apgar Village, Two Medicine, St. Mary, and Many Glacier.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is currently open from St. Mary to Logan Pass, but temporarily closed from Apgar to Logan Pass due to Howe Ridge Fire activity. That temporary closure includes the Lake McDonald Lodge Complex.

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 & Avalanche Campgrounds.

The Inside North Fork road is closed and multiple trail closures are associated with this fire. Please see full trail closures 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.

Smoke monitoring information is available at: http://svc.mt.gov/deq/todaysair/

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.

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