(See Fire Management for current fire activity in the park.)
A report of a fire start is received by the Yellowstone Wildland Fire Dispatch Office and fire monitors are sent to investigate. First, monitors determine the cause of the fire (human-caused or lightning strike). Fires caused by human activity are suppressed but natural fires are allowed to burn as long as they do not threaten people, property or resource values. After determining that a fire start, or ignition, is natural, monitors collect information that will allow the Fire Management Office to decide what management action should be taken.
Fire monitors may observe small, smoldering fires for a short time every few days. They may also camp out on large, remote fires for days or weeks at a time, continuing to collect information on fire behavior, fuels, and weather. Often fire monitors will deploy weather instruments such as a remote automated weather station. On larger fires, fire behavior analysts and long-term fire analysts are often utilized to help assess the fire conditions. They also use information provided by fire monitors to predict fire intensity and spread rate.
When they are not on fires, fire monitors collect daily fire weather information from stations around the park. Monitors measure temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, dew point, winds, fuel moisture, and lightning occurrence which are used to determine current and expected fire danger. This large volume of weather and fuel moisture data from all parts of the park is processed to identify areas of potentially problematic fire behavior in the event of an ignition.
Did You Know?
At peak summer levels, 3,500 employees work for Yellowstone National Park concessioners and about 800 work for the National Park Service.