GLACIER NATIONAL PARK - The thick smoke in Glacier National Park has grounded helicopters from attacking the Sprague and Adair peak fires, but it's also given fire crews time to set up more defenses to protect Lake McDonald Lodge.
As intense smoke from wildfires choke west glacier, its effect has slowed growth of the Sprague fire.giving firefighters a window of opportunity to put structure protection in place in the Lake McDonald Lodge area.
"So we have got hose we've got pumpkins sitting here as a backup to have water on site but we want to have crews available and ready to respond to any ember showers that we get," explained Rick Smith a structure protection specialist with the Incident Management Team.
If the fire were to reach the lodge, fire managers already have a plan they have brought in a six-inch pipe so they can pump water from Lake McDonald. the pipe can pump up to 700 gallons of water a minute.
"If we do get an ember shower one of the main tools that we will use to protect the lodge -- that is so cherished that everyone loves -- is a large fire engine, a structure engine, with a ladder truck, I believe with a 100-foot ladder and it can pump I believe 1,200 gallons of water a minute and it can actually spray the entire roof on Lake McDonald Lodge here," Smith said.
Incident Management Team meteorologist Phil Manuel with the National Weather Service says the fire is expected to move away from the lodge area and the smoke should get better over the weekend.
"Weather concerns for this fire initially, of course, is where it's going to go and we look to the weather to make that decision. And our weather concern right now is the smoke. It's been around for the last three to four days and we've been getting a lot of questions from folks," Manuel said. "You know when is the smoke going to get out of here and my answer to that is with the frontal passage that will be here this weekend."
The mandatory evacuation order remains in place for western sections of Glacier National Park. The latest on closures in the Park can be found here.