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Fire Updates for Yellowstone and Gallatin National Forest

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Date: August 25, 2011
Contact: Al Nash or Dan Hottle, 307-344-2015
Contact: Marna Daley, 406-587-6703

U.S. Department of the Interior   
National Park Service             
Yellowstone National Park         
Al Nash or Dan Hottle             
307 344-2015                       

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Forest Service
Gallatin National Forest
Marna Daley
406 587-6703

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INTERAGENCY NEWS RELEASE
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Gallatin National Forest Under Red Flag Warning
Fire Danger Rating In Yellowstone National Park Elevated to "Very High"

Despite the much needed moisture the region received from last winter's heavy snowpack, typical late summer weather conditions have caused vegetation in South Central Montana and Northwest Wyoming to dry out, increasing the potential for fire activity.

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the Gallatin National Forest from noon until midnight Thursday, August 25, due to forecast thunderstorms, gusty winds, and lightning.  A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire conditions will exist which could lead to explosive fire growth potential.

While thunderstorms are also forecast for Yellowstone National Park Thursday, more cloud cover is expected in the park than in areas to the north, keeping fire conditions below dangerous levels.

The continued dry conditions have prompted the Gallatin National Forest to increase the fire danger to High today. The fire danger in Yellowstone National Park was increased to Very High on Thursday.

Gallatin National Forest has had 14 fires so far this year, including a new start southwest of Big Timber on the Main Boulder River, north-northwest of Speculator Creek. The Bull Fire, burning in the Absaroka-Beartooth wilderness north of the park and 12 miles east of Gardiner, Montana, is now estimated at 300 acres.

A new fire was also discovered Thursday morning northeast of Heart Lake in the south central portion of Yellowstone. The Heart Fire is just a tenth of an acre. It is about a mile from a patrol cabin. The two backcountry campsites and trails in the area remain open. The other active fire in the park is the Gibbon Fire, located in the backcountry 3 miles east of Madison Junction. It remains estimated at 6 acres. There have been 10 fires in Yellowstone this season.

Updated information on fires in the forest and the park is being posted online at http://inciweb.org.

Most of the smoke area residents see and smell is not from any of these small fires; rather is from larger fires burning to the northwest.

Yellowstone National Park and the Gallatin National Forest are part of a larger fire adapted ecosystem. Fire plays an important role in maintaining the health of this area's wildlife habitat and vegetation.

Most fires occurring in the area are caused by lightning. These fires are managed to protect people and property, enhance the area's natural resources where appropriate, allow natural processes to occur, and safely and effectively use available firefighting resources. Both the Gallatin National Forest and Yellowstone National Park work to suppress all human-caused fires, focusing on reducing the risk to firefighters, the public and property.

Visitors and area residents are encouraged to be careful with campfires, smoking materials, and when operating any equipment with an open flame, which could create a spark, or which can generate heat like a vehicle muffler.

Updated information on fire conditions and any fire restrictions are available at area visitor centers and ranger stations and on the web at http://fs.usda.gov/gallatin and http://www.nps.gov/yell.

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Did You Know?

Seventh Cavalry Ensignia Pin.

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.