Druid Complex Fire Update - August 28, 2013 - 9:00 a.m.
National Park Service
Yellowstone National Park
Al Nash or Dan Hottle
Fire Information Line (307) 242-7422
Overview: Thick cloud cover moderated the activity of fires within the Druid Complex on Tuesday. Conditions allowed fire managers to conduct an early morning infrared flight to map the perimeter of the fires using heat detection. Operations personnel also flew the fires on Tuesday afternoon to observe their behavior; only the Alum, Druid and Alder Fires were producing smoke. The Complex has reached 11,671 acres.
The forecast for Wednesday includes additional scattered thunderstorms. Conditions are expected to become warmer and drier as the holiday weekend approaches, which could lead to increased fire activity. Weather within the park can vary as summer progresses into fall, so fire managers pay close attention to the current and expected conditions to determine the best way to manage fires.
Firefighters will continue to take advantage of favorable conditions to develop indirect firelines and implement structure protection measures that will help protect valuable resources and structures in the park, both this season and during future fire seasons.
Alum Fire: The Alum Fire (pronounced AL-umm, not ah-LUM) is located near several popular Yellowstone natural and cultural attractions including the Mud Volcano, Lake Hotel, Bridge Bay and Fishing Bridge. It continues to be the most conspicuous fire in the park, although not as dramatic as days prior when an impressive smoke column was visible for miles. The fire is currently only visible from Grand Loop Road near the Mud Volcano geyser area, and is slowly creeping down slope towards Grand Loop Road. There is no imminent threat that the fire will cross the Grand Loop Road. Single tree torching has been observed during the afternoon when relative humidity is lowest and winds from nearby storm cells fan flames burning under the tree canopy.
Recent aerial infrared observations prove that the fire is still holding heat in several areas, especially the flank visible from Mud Volcano. Up to .3 inches of rain has fallen onto the fire in the past week, however, no rain was recorded for the past two days, allowing Alum’s potential to persist. The current monsoonal flow that produced recent showers in the Yellowstone region is expected to give way to a dryer weather pattern over the Labor Day weekend. This change will bring increased risk of the fire gaining momentum and perhaps approaching the roadway just north of Fishing Bridge junction. Public Information Officers have been posted at the newly reopened Mud Volcano area, and excited tourists from around the world were briefed on Yellowstone’s unique fire ecology and fire management strategy all the while in view of the smoky flanks of the Alum.
The pullouts along a six-mile stretch between Fishing Bridge and Mud Volcano must remain closed, as backcountry travel in the areas in the fire’s predicted path are not currently safe. The closures affect LeHardy rapids, as well as several picnic areas and trails along this stretch of the river. Other nearby trails are open including Pelican Creek Nature Trail, Natural Bridge, Lake Village to Bridge Bay Trail, and the Lake Lodge Meadows Trail.
An indirect fireline is nearing completion between the fire and the Lake government housing area, with two to four log trucks hauling material throughout the workday. An excavator and dump trucks have also arrived to help remove slash from the site in order to ensure a clean, fireproof barrier. Work also continues on the Bridge Bay indirect fireline improvements, wrapping up Wednesday afternoon. The work will help ensure that park facilities will not be affected by the fire’s potential advancement to the south.
Druid Fire: The Druid Fire is located on the north side of Druid Peak. Fire activity was minimal on Tuesday as it continues to back slowly down into the Rose Creek drainage area. The Beartooth Highway, the scenic high elevation portion of US-212 linking Red Lodge, Montana, with the communities of Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana, and the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park, is open to visitor travel.
The data from a Remote Access Weather Station (RAWS) system placed near Druid Fire Tuesday, and other weather stations near the Druid Complex, can be viewed at http://raws.wrh.noaa.gov/roman/fire.html. Placement of the RAWS and remote camera have provided a safer way to monitor the fire, reducing the amount of exposure to hazardous conditions for the four firefighters that had worked in the fire area.
Structure protection planning and preparations are underway at Buffalo Ranch and the Yellowstone Institute in case the fire advances east towards Grand Loop Road and Pebble Creek Campground.
Impacts to visitors and area residents: All roads leading into and through the park and all visitor services including campgrounds, lodging, stores and visitor services in the park are open. Impacts from smoke have been minimal and will continue to be as long as the weather remains cool. All visitors are encouraged to check for updates often as road closures may be needed based on daily fire activity. Updated park road information is available 24-hours a day by calling 307-344-2117.
Additional information can be found on the web at:
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.