LeHardy Fire Now 600 Acres
Contact: Al Nash, 307-344-2015
National Park Service
Yellowstone National Park
LeHardy Fire In Yellowstone Now 600 Acres
The LeHardy Fire north of Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone National Park was estimated at 600 acres as dusk fell Wednesday night.
The fire was started by a powerline which runs in a utility corridor west of the Grand Loop Road between Fishing Bridge and Canyon.
Gusty southwest winds pushed the fire east across a section of the road about three miles north of Fishing Bridge near LeHardy Rapids, and then jumped across the Yellowstone River. Winds aligned with a creek drainage on the east side of the river prompted steady, rapid fire growth through the afternoon and into an evening.
Yellowstone National Park firefighters, West Yellowstone smokejumpers, two Type 1 air tankers from Billings, two helicopters, and fire engines from several surrounding areas are already assigned to the fire. Additional firefighting resources including two Type I hand crews are on order and are expected to arrive overnight and into the morning.
The weather forecast for Thursday calls for temperatures in the 70s, with humidity between 17 and 23 percent and afternoon winds from the southwest at 10 to 15 miles an hour with gusts to 25 miles and hour.
Because the LeHardy Fire has burned along a section of the Grand Loop Road and is still actively burning, the section of the road between Fishing Bridge Junction and Mud Volcano is expected to remain closed through Thursday. Updated Yellowstone National Park road information is available 24 hours a day by calling 307-344-2117. Some backcountry trails and campsites are also impacted by the fire. Updated information is available at all of the park’s Backcountry Offices or by calling 307-344-2160 during business hours.
The LeHardy Fire does not pose a threat to visitors. It is burning to the northeast away from roads and developed areas in a mature lodgepole and spruce forest. All park entrances and all seasonal visitor services are open.
Conditions in the park are very different this year than they were 20 years ago. In 1988, a dry winter was followed by a wet spring and a hot summer of dry lightning and no rainfall. Decades of successful suppression of both human and naturally-caused fires had resulted in a homogenous, dense, mature forest with abundant dead and downed material ripe for a stand-replacement fire.
In comparison, this year a normal, snowy winter has been followed by a cool, wet spring. Due to the 1988 fires and changes in fire management in the ensuing 20 years, this park is now a mosaic of different age class stands of trees with less available fuel and natural barriers to fire spread.
This is the third fire in Yellowstone National Park this season. The other fires were just one-tenth of an acre in size each.
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.