Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Winds Give Reynolds Creek Fire Chance To Expand

Corin Cates-Carney
A helicopter drops water on the Reynolds Creek Fire in Glacier National Park Thursday, July 23.

There's a red flag fire weather warning in effect for the third day in a row for the east side of Glacier National Park today where the Reynolds Creek Fire continues to burn out of control.

That warning for high winds and low humidity is in place from 10 a.m. to midnight. The latest update from fire officials estimates the fire's size at 4,000 acres, the same estimate as a day ago.  The forecast shows a chance of showers for the area starting Saturday with high elevation snow possible Monday.

A Type 1 incident command team, the highest federal response to wildfires, was scheduled to take over the fight against the blaze last night at 10 o'clock. More than 200 people, 25 fire engines and six helicopters are currently assigned to the fire.

Andy Huntsberger, incident commander for the fire yesterday, said the fire's growth is being limited in the north because of steep and rocky terrain, but to the east and west the fire has room to expand.

"And the east is probably our area of greatest concern," Huntsberger says. "Because the predominant winds blow from the west to the east here and there is a band of vegetation that is continuous from where the fire is currently at all the way to St. Mary and beyond."

Outside the park the west shore of lower St. Mary Lake remains evacuated. Fire officials are holding a public meeting in St. Mary tonight from 6 to 7 p.m. to give an update on the fire and answer questions.

Businesses that rely on servicing park visitors are voicing concern about negative impacts from publicity related to the fire and note that most of Glacier National Park remains open and that the west side of the park is mostly unaffected. While the Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed on the east side of the park, most of the road on the western side remains open.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
Become a sustaining member for as low as $5/month
Make an annual or one-time donation to support MTPR
Pay an existing pledge or update your payment information
Related Content