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Growing wildfire triggers evacuations in part of Glacier National Park

Posted at 6:22 AM, Aug 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-13 08:22:40-04

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK – Dry thunderstorms sparked numerous wildfires across Western Montana, from the Flathead to the Bitterroot this weekend.

Fire crews are battling three new lightning-sparked blazes in Glacier National Park, one of which is prompting evacuations.

The Howe Ridge Fire northwest of Lake McDonald has expanded through spotting and has raised a red flag for park officials and fire experts.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed from Lake McDonald Lodge to Logan Pass.

Avalanche Creek Campground visitors are being evacuated by park rangers.  

(UPDATE, 9:49 pm) Glacier National Park officials have expanded the evacuation order to include all businesses and private residences within the Lake McDonald Lodge complex, including the historic Lake McDonald Lodge.

Visitors and employees were notified of the need to evacuate at around 9 PM. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed from Lake McDonald Lodge to Logan Pass.

The Avalanche Creek Campground and residences along North Lake McDonald Road were notified of the need to evacuate at around 8 PM Sunday night. 

The south end of Lake McDonald including the Grist Road and Apgar Village are not under evacuation.


(1st Report, 9:03 pm Sunday) The Howe Ridge Fire northwest of Lake McDonald has expanded through spotting in this evening’s winds.

A press release from Glacier National Park says that Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed from Lake McDonald Lodge to Logan Pass. Avalanche Creek Campground visitors are being evacuated by park rangers.  Currently Lake McDonald Lodge itself is open.

An evacuation order is now in place for North Lake McDonald Road to Logan Pass, including Avalanche Creek Campground, effective immediately.

This evacuation impacts about 50 people who own private homes, several National Park Service employees residing at the Lake McDonald Ranger Station, and campers at the 87-site Avalanche Creek Campground.

The threatened structures are located at the north end of Lake McDonald. A structure protection team has been requested.

The south end of Lake McDonald including the Grist Road and Apgar Village are not under evacuation.

Visitors are asked to keep roads clear.

The Howe Ridge Fire, estimated at 20 acres, continued burning and could be seen from the Going-to-the-Sun Road and the Lake McDonald area. CL-215 (Canadian “superscooper”) airplanes flew for four hours, dropping water from Lake McDonald, but this was not effective in stopping fire growth. The planes have been redirected to other fires outside of the park. Firefighters attempted to hike to the fire, but have not been able to engage the fire due to active fire behavior and concerns for firefighter safety.

Ten smoke jumpers are working to suppress a fire located near Numa Ridge. They were supported by a helicopter that dropped water on the fire for several hours. The fire is estimated at 1.5 acres.

Firefighters attempted to reach the Heaven’s Sake fire located mid-slope on Heaven’s Peak by rappelling from a helicopter. Due to windy conditions, heli-rapellers could not access this fire. Fire managers will continue to assess options for fighting this fire, and heli-rappellers have been requested for Monday. The fire is estimated to be less than a tenth of an acre, and is burning in a portion of the forest that did not burn in the 2003 Trapper Fire.

The following trails have been closed due to fire danger: Akakola Lake Trail, Camas Lake Trail, Numa Lookout Trail, Trout Lake Trail, and the Howe Lake and Ridge Trails.

The park has established a Fire Information Line with updated recorded information: 406-888-7077.

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