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Contact: Denise Germann, 406-888-5838
WEST GLACIER, MONT. –Firefighters and fire-fighting resources continue to respond to the Reynolds Creek Wildland Fire on the east side of Glacier National Park. At this time, the fire is estimated to be approximately 2,000 acres. The fire management priorities are safety of public and fire-fighting personnel, protection of property and values at risk, and containment of the fire.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed between the St. Mary entrance on the east side and Big Bend on the west side. The road closure is in response to the fire, firefighter and visitor safety, fire response activities, and park personnel priorities. The duration of the road closure is unknown.
The St. Mary Campground is being evacuated. The campground has approximately 148 sites. The Rising Sun Motor Inn, operated by Glacier National Park Lodges, and the Rising Sun Campground were evacuated Tuesday evening.
The St. Mary Visitor Center will close to the public at 12 p.m. today, Wednesday, July 22. It will be used as a fire staging area. The duration of the closure is unknown at this time.
Park rangers and personnel are searching for backcountry hikers in the area to evacuate them and direct them to safety. The parking areas of the St. Mary Visitor Center and the Apgar Visitor Center have been established as gathering areas for park visitors that may have been separated from their group.
The park is assisting visitors retrieve their vehicles that were left along the Going-to-the-Sun Road yesterday due to fire activity in the area. One vehicle was consumed by the fire.
The fire is moving quickly in heavy timber with extreme spread potential. The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning in effect from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. today for Glacier National Park. This warning means that critical fire weather conditions are anticipated, including strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures. These conditions may create explosive fire growth potential.
Preplanning is being conducted for possible evacuation in the St. Mary area. National Park Service personnel are working in cooperation with Glacier County Sheriff's Office and Blackfeet Emergency Management.
All interpretive programs in the St. Mary Valley are cancelled until further notice. There is a temporary flight restriction over the fire area.
An interagency incident command team has been ordered and will arrive this afternoon. Resources from Flathead National Forest, Glacier County, East Glacier, Babb, St Mary, and Cutbank, Fire Departments, Blackfeet Fire Management, Montana Department of Natural Resources, Evergreen and West Valley Fire Departments and Flathead County are assisting Glacier National Park.
A fire information phone line has been established at 406-732-7791.
The fire was first reported at approximately 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday and was located near Grizzly Point, approximately six miles east of Logan Pass. Park dispatch received numerous reports of the fire from shuttle bus drivers, Glacier Boat Company employees, park employees and visitors.