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More evacuations ordered due to Howe Ridge Fire in Glacier National Park

(GREAT FALLS) The Howe Ridge Fire in Glacier National Park has now burned an estimated 7,835 acres, and park officials on Sunday morning issued an additional evacuation order and a new evacuation warning.

  1. Evacuation of Fish Creek Campground, including all campers, NPS employees, and the Fish Creek Ranger Station residence.
  2. Fish Creek Campground Road is closed from the Camas Road junction.
  3. Evacuation Warning from the Quarter Circle Bridge Road north. This includes Apgar, the Grist Road, and all areas accessed from Quarter Circle Bridge Road.
  4. Trails off the Camas Road are now closed.

A press release from Glacier National Park says this means people must leave Fish Creek. People in the Apgar or areas accessed from the Quarter Circle Bridge Road area need to be ready to leave but are not being told leave at this time.

The evacuation notices were issued due to recent fire activity, weather predictions for the next 24-36 hours, and recommendations from the Incident Management Team.

A weather system is predicted to bring slightly cooler temperatures, but the frontal passage will increase winds and cause shifts in wind directions. This could significantly affect fire behavior on the southern and western flanks of the fire. Smoke yesterday over the fire perimeter prohibited air resources from dropping water on the fire.

Crews are working around structures in the Fish Creek Campground area and along the Inside North Fork Road to reduce fuels and to set up sprinkler systems. Structure protection efforts continue along the north end of Lake McDonald, using sprinkler systems around the remaining structures on North Lake McDonald Road. Crews are installing hoses and sprinklers to minimize potential fire spread towards the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Fire managers will continue to proactively plan for protection of other areas as the fire progresses. 

The Howe Ridge Fire is active on the southern and southwestern flanks of the fire with backing and flanking fire. In the evening and overnight, the fire was driven by down-valley winds in heavy dead fuels, primarily from the 2003 Robert Fire. An Infrared (IR) flight over the fire last night mapped an increase in the fires size to 7,835 acres. Yesterday, isolated single tree torching was observed within the fire perimeter, but spotting did not contribute to fire growth. 

The fire has destroyed numerous private homes and structures, but there have been no reported injuries. 

Evacuations:

The Fish Creek Campground area is now under an evacuation order. Evacuation orders remain in place for the North Lake McDonald road (private residences and the Lake McDonald Ranger Station), Lake McDonald Lodge area (all businesses, employees, and private residences), private residences along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and Sprague Creek and Avalanche Campgrounds. 

Road and Trail Closures: The Going-to-the-Sun Road remains open between St. Mary and Logan Pass. It is closed between the foot of Lake McDonald (near Apgar) and Logan Pass. The Inside North Fork Road and the Fish Creek Road are closed. Multiple trail closures are associated with this fire. As of Sunday Morning, all trails off of the Camas Road are closed. Please see full trail closures on the park’s website: www.nps.gov/glac.

Fire Restrictions: Glacier National Park and most of western Montana are under Stage II Fire Restrictions. No campfires will be permitted in Glacier’s frontcountry or backcountry. Smoking is also prohibited except within an enclosed building, vehicle, developed recreation area, or barren area three feet in diameter. Propane stoves that have an on/off switch are permitted.

Glacier National Park Lodges, the concessioner that operates Lake McDonald Lodge, has decided to close Lake McDonald Lodge for the rest of the 2018 summer season. Questions about adjustments to reservations should be directed to 855-733-4522. Privately owned Motel Lake McDonald has also closed for the season.Reservation holders should contact 1-844-868-7474. 

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