• Steam rises off of the colorful Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. Photo courtesy Jacob W. Frank


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Late Saturday Winds Cause Owl Fire To Grow To 400 Acres

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Date: July 22, 2007
Contact: Al Nash, (307) 344-2010
Contact: Stacy Vallei, (307) 344-2012

High temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds caused the Owl Fire in the backcountry of Yellowstone National Park to grow significantly in size late Saturday.

The Owl Fire was discovered Friday afternoon.  It’s located in the northwest corner of the park east of US Highway 191, just north of the Montana/Wyoming state line, and south of Specimen Creek. 

The lightning caused fire is burning in a mixed lodgepole and whitebark pine forest in rough terrain.  Gusty winds over 20 miles an hour recorded at a nearby weather station grounded firefighting helicopters for a time Saturday afternoon. Those winds, coupled with temperatures over 80 degrees and humidity readings in the teens, caused the fire to grow from about 60 acres early in the afternoon to an estimated 400 acres as dusk fell over the fire.

Firefighters from Yellowstone National Park and the Gallatin National Forest are working to suppress the fire.  This morning they will resume using helicopters to drop buckets of water on the fire to slow its growth, and to direct the fire into terrain where firefighters on the ground can safely build a containment line.

The fire is burning in the backcountry away from roads and developed areas.  It is not a threat to people or property.  However, it has the potential to develop a smoke column visible from some park roads and highways.  It may also cause a light haze over areas in and near the park, or cause smoke to settle at times in low lying areas. 

While all visitor services, park entrances, and roads are open; some trails and backcountry campsites in the area near the fire are temporarily closed.  Hikers, anglers, backpackers, and stock users planning to go into the northwest corner of the park are encouraged to call the Backcountry Office at (307) 344-2160 for more information.

This is the largest of eleven fires which have occurred in the park this year.  Seven of the fires have been started by lightning and four were caused by people.  

Most areas of Yellowstone National Park have had little precipitation since early June.   A variety of indicators suggest that any fire started by lightning or careless human activity has the potential to grow; especially on hot, dry, windy days. Fire danger in the park has increased to “Extreme”.  Fire restrictions have been in effect since July 3.  The forecast calls for continued hot, dry, weather with the chance of isolated afternoon showers or thunderstorms.

Updated information, maps and digital pictures of the Owl Fire are posted when available on the InciWeb Incident Information System website at inciweb.org/incident/855/ and the Yellowstone National Park Wildland Fire Management website at www.nps.gov/yell/parkmgmt/firemanagement.htm.

- www.nps.gov/yell -



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