Fire Update, 8-31-2016

August 31, 2016 Posted by: Yellowstone Fire Information
Critical Fire Weather Through Friday 

Today will be a very active fire day due to poor overnight humidity recovery combined with hot and unstable conditions.

A Red Flag Warning is in effect Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Increasing winds are expected for the rest of the week. Erratic winds from dry thunderstorms are possible and may contribute to fire growth.

East of the Seven Mile Bridge along the Madison River, traffic was reduced to one lane yesterday afternoon as burnout operations were conducted along the highway. This operation will continue today. Park visitors should expect delays with traffic reduced to one lane.

A community meeting will be held at the LDS church, 245 Faithful Street, West Yellowstone, MT at 7:30pm on Thursday.

Air Quality Outlook 

NEW As the inversion weakens, smoke will drop back into West Yellowstone mixing through the morning before clearing after noon. The proximity of the fire above the Duck Creek area will result in smoke drifting into the area after midnight. Lake Junction, Mammoth and Gardiner will be downwind of the Fawn and Maple fires and may see Moderate to Unhealthy for Sensitive Group conditions this afternoon becoming Unhealthy in the evening. The park may implement traffic control near areas of smoke which is expected to increase over the next few days. 

Breathing smoke is not healthy for anyone, but some people are at greater risk, including people with heart or lung disease, children, and the elderly. If it looks smoky, you may want to limit or eliminate exercise or other outdoor activities. A daily air quality summary report, and links to real-time monitoring data and information about ways to limit your exposure to protect your health are available on the links listed below. 

What's Open

  •  All entrances to Yellowstone are open. 
  • Park visitor facilities, including park concession-operated services, and businesses in surrounding communities remain open. 
  • NEW The Maple Fire area closure has been modified. The Bakers Hole area of the Madison River is now open.
What's Closed

  • The Slough Creek area, including the day use and campground are closed due to the Buffalo Fire. 
  • NEW The Mary Mountain Trail is closed due to the Central Fire.
  • Visit the links below for the full list and maps of current backcountry campsite, trail, and road closures.
Maple Fire: 36,720 acres (approximately 1,752 acre increase) Location: approx. 3.67 mi NE of West Yellowstone (Intersection of US Hwys 20 &287), 3.57 mi SW of Mount Holmes Lookout, 1.78 mi from Madison Junction.

Suppression actions significantly increased yesterday on the west and south sides of the Maple Fire as recent fire movements have dictated more aggressive actions. A large Chinook helicopter and a smaller type 2 helicopter were used in the Cougar Creek area and two water scooping airplanes called Fire Bosses were used in the Gneiss Creek area to check fire spread to the west. Fire crews completed burnout operations southwest of Cougar Creek to anchor into the recent Boundary Fire. Fuels reduction efforts and control lines are being improved to allow crews to directly engage the fire in this area to protect private property. Today, fire managers are evaluating control line opportunities in the northwest corner of the fire in order to deter fire spread to the west towards Highway 191. 

Park visitors may safely view the Maple Fire at designated areas between the West Entrance and Madison Junction where the fire has burned down to the road, just east of Seven Mile Bridge. 
Fire information personnel will be available to answer questions. Fire managers may continue small burnout operations as opportunities present themselves in the Seven Mile Bridge area. The operations provide a clean fire edge that reduces spotting, flanking, and other control issues. They also provide an anchor point for crews along the southern flank to hold the fire north of the Madison River (west of Seven Mile Bridge).

Fire crews continue to work on fuels reduction projects on the western boundary of the park to help reduce the risk of wildfire spread into the vicinity of West Yellowstone and the Duck Creek subdivisions.

Buffalo Fire: 4,442 acres (approximately 434 acre increase)
Location: approximately 3 mi NE of Tower Junction and 2.25 mi S of the park boundary, and is visible from the Lamar Valley.

The alignment of terrain, fuels and wind will allow for active fire behavior on the Buffalo Fire today. Firefighters have been using weedwackers to cut the grass around wooden bridges to help protect them. 

Fawn Fire: 2,073 acres (approximately 57 acre increase) Location: W of Fawn Pass, approximately 8 mi W of Mammoth Hot Springs, 19 mi NE of West Yellowstone, 13 mi SW of Gardiner, and 28 mi SE of Big Sky The Fawn Fire continues to burn in heavy fuels and a large smoke column is expected to be visible from Mammoth Hot Springs today. Five firefighters continue to monitor fire behavior and protect the Fawn Pass. cabin. 

Central Fire: 1,043 acres (approximately 203 acre increase) Location: a remote area, approximately 8.5 mi W of Lake developed area and 2 mi S of Hayden Valley.

The fire has backed into the wind to the west and is starting to burn through the 1988 fire scar. Where the fire has burned into Hayden Valley, the grasses are not carrying fire. There has been limited growth on southwest side of the fire. An area that burned during the 2015 Spruce Fire is limiting its spread to the southeast. The majority of growth is expected to the north. The smoke column is expected to be visible from Hayden Valley, Fishing Bridge and Mammoth.

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Last updated: August 31, 2016

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