August 15, 2017
Lauren Alley, 406-888-5838
West Glacier, MT. The Sprague Fire, which was sparked in a lightning storm on August 10 in Glacier National Park, has actively burned over the past two days.
The park is managing the Sprague Fire using a confine and contain suppression strategy. The objective is to keep the fire within natural and human made fire breaks due to the steep terrain, concern for firefighter safety given the terrain, and scarcity of firefighter resources due to high fire activity throughout the northwest. The park expects that this fire may continue to burn in some capacity throughout the summer season before a snow event this fall.
Though a cool weather system moved through the area on Sunday and Monday, little rain fell on the fire. The fire is now estimated at 100 acres and is burning in steep, heavily forested terrain on the west side of the park. Due to very dry fuels and predicted dry weather conditions, fire managers expect to see continued fire growth over the next several weeks.
The fire is located above Crystal Ford on the Gunsight Trail. This is the main access trail to the Sperry Chalet. Depending on fire behavior, the Sperry Chalet may remain closed for the rest of the season. The structures at Sperry Chalet are not immediately threatened by fire at this time, however the park is prepared to implement structural protection precautions as necessary. Sperry Chalet has 17 guest rooms that hold between 40-50 overnight guests each night during the summer season. The chalet was scheduled to close for the season on September 11.
Thus far, ground firefighting resources have not been able to access the fire safely for direct action. Crews are evaluating the terrain and identifying natural fire breaks, areas for human-made fire breaks, and other fuel modification strategies that will be used to contain the fire. The fire is expected to grow beyond the steep mountainous terrain it is now in. If the fire moves off of the steep slopes, crews will be able to conduct ground firefighting operations. As available, aerial resources will continue to be used to reinforce natural and manmade barriers.
Other fires within the park have been contained or are being staffed. A fire was reported in the North Fork area of the park on Sunday. The Adair Peak fire was evaluated on August 14 for fire behavior and threats to structures. It is burning in heavy duff in a remote area. It would require a substantial firefighter commitment to extinguish in the short-term. Due to this, the park will continue to evaluate and assess this fire, but will direct firefighting resources to other fires unless fire behavior changes. Fire managers expect that the Adair Peak fire may grow somewhat. No structures are immediately threatened.
Glacier National Park has resumed issuing backcountry permits for designated backcountry campgrounds. Some backcountry campgrounds are closed due to fire activity. All front country campgrounds remain open. Check https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/hikingthetrails.htm for updated backcountry status. Trail closures remain in effect for the Howe Ridge Trail, Camas Trail, Trout Lake Trail, the Gunsight Pass Trail from Lake McDonald to Gunsight Pass (including all secondary trails such as the Snyder Lake Trail), and the Lincoln Lake Trail.
Most areas of the park are open including all areas of the North Fork, Apgar Village, the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Granite Park Chalet, Two Medicine, St. Mary, Many Glacier and Goat Haunt. Please check the park website for updated trail and road information at http://bit.ly/2uAE96d