WeatherWildfire Watch


Howe Ridge Fire burns more than 11,000 acres

Posted at 2:53 PM, Aug 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-21 16:53:53-04

GREAT FALLS, Mont. – The Howe Ridge Fire (Inciweb) in Glacier National Park has burned an estimated 11,172 acres as of Tuesday morning, and there is no containment at this point. The lightning-sparked fire has destroyed numerous private homes and structures, but there have been no reported injuries. It is located along the northwest edge of Lake McDonald, and about nine miles from West Glacier.

A press release from Glacier National Park says that Monday’s weather system brought variable showers and cooler temperatures which moderated fire behavior and aided in firefighting efforts. However, gusty conditions caused the fire to grow on the southwestern flank. Erratic winds are expected to continue as a cold front passes through the area.

Due to better visibility yesterday, air operations were able to aid in suppression efforts. CL-215 “Super Scoopers” and helicopters continued to drop water near the southwestern flank of the fire. High volume pumps and sprinklers will be installed at Lake McDonald Lodge. Firefighters will continue to fortify containment lines on the southwest flank of the fire and protect structures at the Fish Creek Campground as well as patrol and protect structures on the North Lake McDonald Road. On the northeastern flank, north of Lake McDonald, firefighters will continue to utilize pumps and hose lays to aid in suppression efforts and limit fire spread towards the Going-to-the-Sun Road.  Air operations have also been utilized to assist with suppression efforts in this area.

The Howe Ridge Fire continues to be active on the southern and southwestern flanks with backing and flanking fire. In the evening and overnight, the fire has been driven by down-valley winds in heavy dead fuels, primarily from the 2003 Robert Fire. Isolated single tree torching was observed within the fire perimeter, but spotting did not contribute to fire growth.

The Fish Creek Campground area is now under an Evacuation Order. 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.

An Evacuation Warning from the Quarter Circle Bridge Road north has been issued. This includes Apgar, the Grist Road, and all areas accessed from Quarter Circle Bridge Road.

Road and Trail Closures: The Going-to-the-Sun Road remains open between St. Mary and Logan Pass. It is closed between the foot of Lake McDonald (near Apgar) and Logan Pass. The Inside North Fork Road and the Fish Creek Road are closed. Multiple trail closures are associated with this fire. As of Sunday Morning, all trails off of the Camas Road are closed. Please see full trail closures on the park’s website:

Fire Restrictions: Glacier National Park and most of western Montana are under Stage II 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.

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.

For a recorded fire update, call (406) 888-7077.

Story by David Sherman, MTN News