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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Closures, Evacuations Continue Around Glacier Park As The Reynolds Creek Fire Grows

Updated 07/22/15, 5:25 p.m. Glacier National Park officials are reporting strong winds and extreme fire behavior on the east side of the park at this hour. Outside the park, a mandatory evacuation order has been issued for the west shore of lower St. Mary Lake, according to the Glacier County Sheriff's department. People on the lake's east side are being told to prepare for possible evacuation.The Reynolds Creek fire that started there from an unknown cause yesterday is now estimated at 2,000 acres. A red flag fire weather warning is in effect for the east side of the park until 9:00 tonight.

Although two campgrounds, a hotel,  the St Mary Visitors center and several trails are closed, most of Glacier National Park remains open.

Going-to-the-Sun Road, however, is closed from the east side of the park, over Logan pass to Big Bend.

On the west side of the park, tourists like Rod Hoadley from California are arriving and changing their plans.

"We drove in from the east and we saw some smoke, and we really didn't know what was going on until we got to the west. We wanted to go over the pass to the middle of the park, but we can't, and it's definitely disappointing," Hoadley said.

Updated 07/22/15, 3:25 p.m.: The Reynolds Creek Fire in Glacier National Park continues to grow, and is now estimated at 2,000 acres in size, according to park officials. St. Mary visitor center will be closed to the public beginning at noon today for use as a fire staging area. The Flathead Beacon is reporting that preparations are underway to evacuate the community of St. Mary this afternoon.

Going-to-the-Sun Road remains closed from St. Mary to the Big Bend on the west side of Logan pass. Both St. Mary Campground and Rising Sun Campground have been evacuated. Park personnel continue to search for and evacuate backcountry hikers in the area. The following trails have also been closed due to the fire:

  • Gunsight Pass trail
  • Highline trail - Granite Park Chalet to Logan Pass
  • Red Eagle trail
  • Peigan Pass trail (beyond Feather Plume Jct. in Many Glacier)
  • Trails originating on the closed sections of Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The fire is burning in heavy timber with "extreme spread potential." On top of that, a red flag warning is in effect from 3:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., meaning high winds, hot temperatures and low humidity are expected.
An interagency incident command team has been ordered, and is expected to arrive this afternoon.

The fire started Tuesday afternoon near Grizzly Point, approximately six miles east of Logan Pass.

A fire information phone line has been established at 406-732-7791.

Josh Burnham is MTPR's digital editor. He works on the news team and as a content strategist managing the station's website, podcasts, email newsletters and social media.
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