Wind brings changing conditions, better visibility for wildfires in Glacier National Park

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  • A super scooper airplane drops 1,600 gallons of water on the Sprague Fire in Glacier National Park on Sunday. (Aaric Bryan/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 1

    A super scooper flies into position to drop water on the Sprague Fire in Glacier National Park on Sunday. (Aaric Bryan/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 2

    Dolby, a Labrador retriever, plays in Lake McDonald as the Sprague Fires burns at Glacier National Park. (Aaric Bryan/Daily Inter Lake)

  • A super scooper airplane drops 1,600 gallons of water on the Sprague Fire in Glacier National Park on Sunday. (Aaric Bryan/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 1

    A super scooper flies into position to drop water on the Sprague Fire in Glacier National Park on Sunday. (Aaric Bryan/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 2

    Dolby, a Labrador retriever, plays in Lake McDonald as the Sprague Fires burns at Glacier National Park. (Aaric Bryan/Daily Inter Lake)

Saturday’s cold front brought higher winds to Glacier National Park, which improved visibility in the area and allowed firefighting aircraft to resume operations on the area’s wildfires over the weekend.

The Sprague Fire continues to burn 5 miles northeast of West Glacier. According to a press release from the National Park Service on Sunday, the cold front Saturday brought higher winds from the west-southwest, but increased humidity and cloud cover moderated fire behavior. The improved visibility allowed four water-dropping helicopters to work hots spots along Snyder Ridge and Mount Brown.

The fire management team reported similar conditions Sunday, with winds out of the west-southwest being largely favorable. Two Canadian CL-415 airplanes, also known as “super scoopers,” dropped water from Lake McDonald on areas of the Sprague Fire on Sunday. The fixed-wing planes skim the lake’s surface, scooping water into tanks on board. They can drop up to 1,600 gallons of water at a time.

Structure protection work is continuing in the Lake McDonald Lodge and North Lake McDonald area. The “Rain for Rent” system is up and running, with sprinklers and road spraying continuing around Lake McDonald Lodge complex to increase humidity and cool the immediate area, creating a “rain forest” micro-climate. Pumps and hose lay systems have been installed and are operating at Avalanche Creek Campground, Trail of the Cedars area and North McDonald Lake area. The Wheeler Cabin is wrapped and firefighters continue to mop up around the Sperry Chalet complex.

An evacuation order remains in effect from the south end of Lake McDonald north to Logan Pass, including North McDonald Road. This does not include the Apgar area at this time. Logan Pass is still accessible from the east side of the park. The duration of the evacuation is still unknown.

The fire is listed at 13,674 acres with 35 percent containment.

The Adair Peak Fire, burning 18 miles north/northwest of West Glacier, also saw increased west-southwest winds Saturday, increasing activity in the basin leading up to Wolf Gun Mountain. Firefighters ran the sprinkler system at the upper Patrol Cabin on Logging Lake. On Sunday the fire behavior was moderate, as the fire entered surrounding old fire scars. The Adair Fire is 1,918 acres with 10 percent contained.

The Elder Creek Fire, burning 40 miles north of West Glacier on the U.S./Canada border, showed no activity Saturday as the cloud cover and higher humidity slowed fire behavior. The following trails are closed due to the fire: Kishenehn Trail from the road to the Canadian border, Kishenehn Creek Trail from the Patrol Cabin to the border and the Kintla Trail from Kishenehn Creek to Boulder Pass Trail (over Starvation Ridge). The fire is 170 acres in Glacier National Park and 2,108 acres in total.

Many areas of the park remain open. Going-to-the-Sun Road between St. Mary and Logan Pass, Granite Park Chalet, Two Medicine, St. Mary and Many Glacier are currently open. For current closure information and conditions, visit https://nps.gov/glac.

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