GLACIER NATIONAL PARK – The Howe Ridge fire burning on the west side of Glacier National Park has now grown to 4,100 acres.
Fire managers report that the lightning-sparked blaze — which has already burned structures — continued to move slowly south and west overnight through heavy dead and down forest fuels, primarily from the 2003 Robert Fire.
Mobile viewers click here to view a photo gallery from the Howe Creek fire.
There is some concern that the isolated thunderstorms that are predicted to develop south and east of the fire area late on Saturday could cause gusty winds and increases in fire behavior.
Structure protection efforts continued along the north end of Lake McDonald, using sprinkler systems around the remaining structures on North Lake McDonald Road. Crews are installing hoses and sprinklers to minimize potential fire spread towards the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
A community meeting will be held on Saturday, August 18th beginning at 6 p.m. in the Columbia Falls High School in the “little theater.” where fire personnel will provide information on the Whale Butte, Howe Ridge, Coal Ridge, and Paola Ridge fires.
Evacuation orders remain in place for the North Lake McDonald road, the Lake McDonald Lodge area, private residences along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and the Sprague Creek and Avalanche campgrounds.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road remains open between St. Mary and Logan Pass but is closed from near Apgar Village to Logan Pass. The Inside North Fork road is also closed and there are multiple trail closures.
Park officials note that guided horseback rides and boat tour operations in the Lake McDonald Lodge area are also suspended until further notice. However, visitor services in most areas of the park remain open including Apgar Village, Two Medicine, St. Mary, and Many Glacier.
A decision was made on Friday by Glacier National Park Lodges to close Lake McDonald Lodge for the rest of the 2018 summer season. Questions about adjustments to reservations should be directed to 855-733-4522. The privately owned Motel Lake McDonald has also closed for the season. Reservation holders should contact 1-844-868-7474.
Glacier National Park and most of western Montana remain under Stage II Fire Restrictions. No campfires will be permitted in Glacier’s frontcountry or backcountry. Smoking is also prohibited except within an enclosed building, vehicle, developed recreation area, or barren area three feet in diameter.
The latest information about the Howe Ridge fire can be found by calling (406) 888-7077. Folks planning to visit Glacier National Park can call (406) 888-7800 for more information.
A Type 1 Incident Management Team which is based at the West Glacier KOA took over at the fire scene on Friday. There are now 126 people battling the Howe Ridge fire.