An interagency incident command team is on its way to Glacier National Park this afternoon as the Reynolds Creek Fire in the park explodes to over 2,000 acres in just 24 hours.
The fire began just six miles east of Logan Pass, the popular visitor center at the peak of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. As of Tuesday afternoon, roughly 21 miles of the 50 mile-long signature road is closed indefinitely, from Big Bend on the west side all the way to the St. Mary entrance on the east side. All trails originating on the road are also closed, and Glacier Park personnel are assisting visitors with retrieving vehicles left along the road after evacuation orders went into effect yesterday. The National Park Service says that one vehicle along the road was burned over by the fire.
The St. Mary Campground, a staple of the east side of the park with 148 campsites that are regularly full during the summer, has been completely evacuated. Nearby Rising Sun Motor Inn and Rising Sun Campground were also evacuated and closed Tuesday evening, as are all hiking programs and flights over in the St. Mary Valley. The St. Mary Visitor Center has been closed as well, and will be used as a staging area for fire crews. Park Service has initiated precautionary evacuations of the St. Mary area within the park while local agencies handle evacuations of the unincorporated community outside of the park boundary. Park Rangers are also searching for any backpackers that may be in the area and directing them to safety.
The Reynolds Creek Fire is reported be in dry heavy timber, and extends from the shores of Saint Mary Lake, across the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and most of the way up the mountain. Extreme fire behavior has been reported, which means spotting, crowning, and a strong convection column are all presently major issues. Hot temperatures, dry conditions, and sustained winds of 15 to 20 miles per hour have led to a Red flag Warning being in effect from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm Wednesday.
County, tribal, state, and federal resources have been called in to assist with the blaze, which is 0% contained and the cause of which remains unknown at this time. Up-to-date information can be found via InciWeb, the Park Service’s Press Release Page, and the Glacier National Park Facebook Page. Fire information phone lines have also been established at (406) 732-7791 and (406) 732-7790.