GLACIER NATIONAL PARK – Crews are using a unique system to help protect historic structures that are still threatened by the nearly 10,000 acre Howe Ridge fire that’s burning in Glacier National Park.
Embers that can travel up to two miles have firefighters concerned about the safety of the historic Lake McDonald Lodge so they’re taking advantage of cooler weather to put more structure protection in place.
Crews are bracing for another possible run by Howe Ridge Fire that’s burning in the high country above Lake McDonald. On Wednesday, a "Rain for Rent" system was getting up and running around the cherished lodge in order to wet fuels that could cause the structure to go up in flames.
"We’re wetting all of these fuels down. We’re increasing that moisture content so basically, they’re unavailable to burn," explained Kevin Smith a structure protection specialist with the Northern Rockies Wildland Fire Management Team. "So we can have an ember land on it and because they’re wet basically they won’t ignite."
Water from Lake McDonald is being pumped to sprinklers paralleling the famed Going-to-the-Sun Road which are wetting down large areas in case the blaze should reach the Lake McDonald Lodge area.
Crews are also laying thousands of additional feet of equipment to protect the lodge as well as the more than 100 other buildings in the complex.
"If there is dryer air and we have a moist situation here, the warmer air has to try [and] dry this moisture off and that has a cooling effect on the temperature and it also makes the humidity over time go down slowly," Smith explained.
Evacuations remain in effect on the west side of Glacier National Park.