Columbine Fire Now Over 1,000 Acres
Contact: Al Nash, 307-344-2010
Contact: Stacy Vallie, 307-344-2012
A lightning-caused fire burning southwest of Sylvan Pass in Yellowstone National Park has grown to over 1,000 acres in less than 24 hours.
The Columbine Fire started just before dark Thursday evening, after a thunderstorm passed over the area. Because of the fire’s location, fuel conditions, and topography, the park called in West Yellowstone Smokejumpers first thing this morning to start containment efforts on the fire.
Hot, dry, winds resulted in active fire behavior today, pushing the fire up the Columbine Creek drainage. By mid-afternoon, the fire had covered an area about four miles long and a half mile wide. It remains in the drainage southwest of Top Notch Peak. The fire is producing a smoke column visible for several miles.
A Northern Rockies Type 2 Incident Management Team has been ordered in to manage the Columbine Fire for Yellowstone National Park. Incident Commander Mark Grant and his team of experienced fire managers will take over the suppression effort in next couple of days, allowing Yellowstone National Park staff to focus on dealing with any new fire starts in the park.
There will be a public meeting Saturday evening to update interested community members on the status of the Columbine Fire. It will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Wapiti School in Wapiti, Wyoming.
Yellowstone National Park aggressively works to suppress all human-caused fires and any naturally occurring fires when they threaten people or developed areas.
Lightning strikes also started three small fires on The Promontory, a large peninsula jutting into the southern end of Yellowstone Lake. The peninsula, covered with a mature lodgepole pine and spruce-fir forest, is surrounded by water. The three Promontory Fires will be actively managed together as a Wildland Fire Use for Resource Benefit, since the fire poses no threat to people or property. Each of the fires is currently estimated at one-tenth of an acre.
The Beaverdam Fire has been burning in deep in the backcountry south and east of the new fire starts since July 22. Cooler weather and occasional rain has kept fire activity low in recent days. Firefighters continue to staff the fire on the ground and monitor its activity from fire lookouts and from the air. It remains estimated at 748 acres.
There have now been seventeen fires in Yellowstone National Park this year. Twelve were started by lightning; four were human caused; and one was caused by a downed power line. The park averages twenty-two lightning fires a year. Fire restrictions have been in effect in Yellowstone National Park since July 3.
All visitor services, park entrances and park roads are open. Several backcountry campsites along the lakeshore on The Promontory are temporarily closed. Some temporary trail and backcountry campsite closures remain in effect near the Owl Fire. Updated information is available by calling the Backcountry Office at (307) 344-2160 during business hours.
Recorded information on the Columbine Fire is available 24-hours a day by calling (307)344-2580, on the web at http://www.nps.gov/yell/parkmgmt/firemanagement.htm, and will be posted to http://inciweb.org when the web site returns to service.
Did You Know?
Prior to the establishment of the National Park Service, the U.S. Army protected Yellowstone between 1886 and 1918. Fort Yellowstone was established at Mammoth Hot Springs for that purpose.