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Sprague Fire grows, local fire departments pitching in - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Sprague Fire grows, local fire departments pitching in

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GLACIER NATIONAL PARK - The Sprague Fire, which burned the Sperry Chalet and forced evacuations on the west side of Glacier National Park has now grown to over 13,300 acres. 

An evacuation order that was put in place on Sunday remains in effect. The order runs from the south end of Lake McDonald north to Logan Pass and includes North McDonald Road. 

While the blaze hasn't reached the Lake McDonald Lodge, fire managers say the area is not out of the woods yet.

"Again...the fire nearly doubled in size but the good news is it did not get as far we thought it might," Peri Suenram with the Northern Rockies Wildland Fire Management Team said on Monday.

The blaze may not have reached Lake McDonald Lodge, 45-mile-an-hour winds drove it down the north side of Mount Brown where it is now threatening 500-year-old cedar forests.

"The fire moved quite a bit westerly and checked up against a different tree species regime. It's checked up against the Cedar Hemlocks it was in kind of more of a Spruce Fir and it moved further south into the Walton Drainage," Fire Information Officer Diane Mann-Klager said.

Fire managers remain concerned that the Sprague fire could reach Lake McDonald Lodge and are taking every precaution.

"East wind driven fire is rare so we are assessing what's going on and making sure we have a plan in tact. Folks are still out doing structure protection around the Lake McDonald area in the Avalanche Creek area," Mann-Klager said.

There are about 127 personnel working out of the fire camp where the Type II Incident Command Team is stationed. The area also has all of the supplies used to fight the fire. Local Flathead Valley fire departments are using supplies like hoses and sprinklers to protect the Lodge if the fire does reach it.

"We've had great county and state assist on this fire we have several local fire departments helping us in the Lake McDonald Lodge complex area and that is making a huge difference," Suenram said.

An update issued Tuesday morning states that the blaze is now established in the Walton drainage to the south of Lincoln Lake Trail with heavy smoke causing a reduction in fire behavior which has allowed firefighters more suppression opportunities. 

Fire managers report two helicopters dipped out of Lake McDonald and worked to cool the fire in the Mount Brown area on Monday while the night shift monitored fire activity on Snyder Ridge and patrolled the Lake McDonald Lodge complex. 

The  Red Cross has set up an emergency shelter for fire evacuees at Canyon Elementary School in Hungry Horse.

The Apgar area remains open and Logan Pass is still accessible from the east side of the Park. 

Meanwhile, Park officials are still monitoring the Adair Peak fire which was started by lightning on Aug. 12. The blaze, which is now at 1,335 acres, is burning in a remote area of the park on the south side of Logging Lake. Personnel wrapped the two historic cabins at either end of Logging Lake.

Most areas of the Park remain open.  All areas of the North Fork, Apgar Village, the Going-to-the-Sun Road between St. Mary and Logan Pass, Granite Park Chalet, Two Medicine, St. Mary, Many Glacier, and Goat Haunt.  Please check the Park website for closure information and current conditions.

A new fire Information line can be accessed by calling (406) 387-9092. The line will be staffed daily from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

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