Smoke fills the air at Lake McDonald after several wildfires sparked to life on Thursday. (MTN News/Nicole Miller photo)
150 lightning strikes were reported in Glacier National Park on Thursday. (photo courtesy: Glacier NP)
A storm that moved through the Glacier National Park late Thursday afternoon triggered approximately 150 lightning strikes throughout the park, sparking several fires.
Glacier National Park spokeswoman Lauren Alley says that fires are suspected or known in the Apgar Lookout area, the Nyack area, Sprague drainage, and Camas drainage. A blaze in the Sprague area that was initially estimated at over 80 acres is, in fact, closer to 10 acres.
The following trails are closed: Apgar Lookout Trail, Howe Ridge Trail, Camas Trail, Trout Lake Trail, the Sperry Trail from Lake McDonald to Sperry Chalet (including all secondary trails such as Synder Trail), John’s Lake Trail, and Lincoln Lake Trail.
Backcountry campgrounds in the areas listed above are closed and backcountry users in those areas are being walked out. Those include Arrow, Camas, Snyder, Sperry, and Lincoln Backcountry campgrounds.
Other backcountry areas in the park are still open for day use. No new overnight backcountry permits will be issued today to reduce the number of people overnighting in the backcountry while the park assesses the impacts from last night’s storm.
Sperry Chalet guests will either hike out via the Gunsight Pass Trail, or remain in place while the Sprague fire is being assessed. Guests with reservations for Friday night will not be able to access the chalet. The structures in the Sperry Chalet complex are not immediately threatened, however the main trail accessing the chalet may be impacted by the fire.
No horseback rides will depart from the Lake McDonald Corral on Friday.
A Type III incident commander has been assigned and additional resources are being ordered. The initial attack for these fires is being managed with park and Flathead National Forest fire management staff and law enforcement, including air support.
Most areas of the park remain open including all areas of the North Fork (all closures have been lifted from earlier this week), Apgar Village, the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Granite Park Chalet, Two Medicine, St. Mary, and Many Glacier.